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GIRLS TENNIS: Bemidji beats Grand Rapids, East Grand Forks in marathon triangular

It was a long, draining afternoon for the Bemidji High School girls tennis team Wednesday, once that lasted into the evening. A triangular that commenced at 12:30 p.m. ran nearly seven hours.

090421.S.BP.BHSGTEN Mollie Rupp.jpg
Bemidji freshman Mollie Rupp returns a volley in a singles match against Grand Rapids on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, at Bemidji High School. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- It was a long, draining afternoon for the Bemidji High School girls tennis team Wednesday, once that lasted into the evening. A triangular that commenced at 12:30 p.m. ran nearly seven hours.

But the Lumberjacks maintained their focus and were able to pull out two wins: 7-0 against Grand Rapids and 5-2 against section rival East Grand Forks.

"Really good matches from everybody,” head coach Kyle Fodness said. “This was kind of our last set of two matches before we have a little bit of practice time now, which everybody is really looking forward to.”

Standouts against Grand Rapids included freshman Mollie Rupp, who shut out Caroline Ahran 6-0, 6-0. The No. 2 doubles duo of seniors Paige Anderson and Abby Johnson showed similar dominance, vanquishing Molly Pierce and Taylor Skelly 6-0, 6-2. Anna Glen also finished with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) victory at No. 4 singles.

Fodness said the team showed its ceiling at times during the day but also found ways to improve, which energized them as they exited the courts after their matches.

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“There were spurts where we played I think up to our potential, and that was awesome to see,” he said. “But then there were also spurts where everybody came off the courts, almost with a little energy saying, 'Oh, you know what? I didn't play that well doing this,' but it was almost exciting, because then you make that improvement, and then it becomes pretty special.

“So I thought everybody was really mature in that way, saying, 'You know, there were times where I played really well, and there were also things I really need to work on. And I'm going to work on them, and that's going to lead me to get quite a bit better.' And I thought the whole lineup did that really well.”

Against East Grand Forks, Bemidji’s top three singles players (Savannah Haugen, Emily Dondelinger and Rupp) all won in straight sets. In doubles, No. 1 pair Chloe Hasbargen and Tatum Offerdahl and No. 3 pair Maddie Jensen and Kendal Midboe joined them with straight-set wins.

But it was a different match against East Grand Forks that caught Fodness’ eye. Anderson and Johnson, after winning their first set 6-2, came back to earth in the second, falling 7-5. A 10-point tiebreak to settle the match went 10-5 in favor of East Grand Forks.

Fodness said the lessons learned from the hard-fought match can pay dividends for the duo down the road if applied correctly.

“Our second doubles team, you could see, they played really well in spurts, and then there was just a bad stretch that happened to come kind of at the end of the second set that just kind of got them,” he said. “And I think maybe if they had a little time to recover, they could have, but we were just playing a tiebreaker there.”

Noting that “sometimes you have to lose some to win some,” Fodness said the experience of playing in a tense match down the stretch after a long day of competition can make his players better as they move forward.

But for now, the Lumberjacks will return to practice, with over a week to refine their skills before their next match -- a home tilt with Brainerd at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 9.

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Bemidji 7, Grand Rapids 0

Singles

No. 1: Haugen (BHS) def. Hill 6-3, 6-3

No. 2: Dondelinger (BHS) def. Teichmann 6-1, 7-6 (7-3)

No. 3: Rupp (BHS) def. Ahran 6-0, 6-0

No. 4: Glen (BHS) def. Bischoff 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)

Doubles

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No. 1: Hasbargen/Offerdahl (BHS) def. Brandt/Hamling 7-5, 6-2

No. 2: Anderson/Johnson (BHS) def. LaFrenier/Pierce 6-0, 6-2

No. 3: Jensen/Midboe (BHS) def. Skelly/Lindner 7-5, 6-2

Bemidji 5, East Grand Forks 2

Singles

No. 1: Haugen (BHS) def. Dietrich 6-1, 6-1

No. 2: Dondelinger (BHS) def. Rand 6-2, 6-3

No. 3: Rupp (BHS) def. Rothenberger 6-0, 6-2

No. 4: Leach (EGF) def. Glen 7-5, 6-2

Doubles

No. 1: Hasbargen/Offerdahl (BHS) def. Farder/Havis 6-4, 6-2

No. 2: Oshie/Borris (EGF) def. Anderson/Johnson 2-6, 7-5, 10-5

No. 3: Jensen/Midboe (BHS) def. Bowman/Farder 6-4, 7-5

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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