TENNIS: Lumberjacks open dual play with tight victory over Alexandria

BEMIDJI -- It probably won't be Bemidji High School tennis' best win of the season, but the Lumberjacks got the 4-3 victory against Alexandria nonetheless on Wednesday to start dual play.

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Adriane Rickert, BHS senior, stretches out to return the volley during her and Shelby Eichstadt’s No. 1 doubles match against Alexandria held Wednesday at Bemidji High School. Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - It probably won’t be Bemidji High School tennis’ best win of the season, but the Lumberjacks got the 4-3 victory against Alexandria nonetheless on Wednesday to start dual play.
Bemidji’s singles went 3-1 while the doubles went 1-2 on the day after the Lumberjacks (1-0) waited three hours for the match thanks to team pictures and the Cardinals arriving late due to bus problems.
“Anytime you play a section team you want to come away with a win and we were able to do that,” said head coach Mark Fodness. “Not exactly the way we wanted to, but I’m sure Alexandria would say the same thing. We were on the courts for three hours before we played. We weren’t quite as crisp and I think being on the courts had something to do with it.”
Once the Lumberjacks finally got the matches going, it took the players a little bit to find their rhythm.
But once they did, Bemidji started rolling.
On the singles side, No. 1 Abbie Kelm and No. 2 Alexis Konecne gave the team a quick 3-1 lead in the dual. Kelm won 6-2, 6-0 while Konecne won 6-1, 6-0.
“The first home meet of the season is always exciting,” Kelm said. “It’s a great way to start the season.”
On the doubles side, the Lumberjacks No. 2 doubles team of Sam Edlund and Taylor Offerdahl picked up the 6-0, 6-3 win.
It was the Bemidji’s lone win in doubles, a section of the lineup with a lot competition as Fodness is still searching for the right combinations on the three teams.
“I was a little disappointed in doubles play today because I think that could be a strength,” Fodness said.
“But we have to be patient. A lot of the girls are playing in different places and different combinations. It’s really their first meaningful play. We played really well at times, but we need to play well more often.”
Alexandria picked up a pair of match wins at No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles, as well as an early win in No. 3 doubles, but the Lumberjacks locked up the win before those final matches finished.
Much like Monday at the Pine City tournament, it was No. 4 singles Olivia Jones providing the difference Bemidji needed to get the win.
Jones won 6-3, 6-3 to give the Lumberjacks the secured 4-1 lead.
“It’s nice to see her step up and win those points when we most need them,” Fodness said. “We talk about it every match, you walk out on the court and your goal is to win your team a point. We aren’t going to win 7-0 every match. She would tell you she didn’t feel it was her best tennis, but she still got the job done.”
Bemidji will be back on the court at noon Friday when the Lumberjacks host another dual match, this time against Hibbing.
Fodness is hoping to see some improvement and get another win this week when they take on the Blue Jackets.
“Wins and losses we’re real happy,” Fodness. “We have some stuff to work on and that’s what you do the first week of the season. It exposes the flaws you have and a lot of that was evident today. We’ll go back to work tomorrow and be back on Friday. That’ll be good to back to work right away.”

Bemidji 4, Alexandria 3
No. 1: Kelm (BHS) def. Ronning (AHS) 6-2, 6-0
No. 2: Konecne (BHS) def. Smell (AHS) 6-1, 6-0
No. 3: Prestby (AHS) def. Anderson-Weir (BHS) 6-3, 7-5
No. 4: Jones (BHS) def. Bitzan (AHS) 6-3, 6-3
No. 1: Peterson/Lanoue (AHS) def. Eichstadt/Rickert (BHS) 6-4, 2-6, 6-3
No. 2: Edlund/Offerdahl (BHS) def. Otto/Jost (AHS) 6-0, 6-3
No. 3: Partington/Dee (AHS) def. Puro/Langerak (BHS) 6-1, 6-1

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Bemidji junior Abbie Kelm returns this shot from Ellie Ronning of Alexandria during their tennis match Wednesday at Bemidji High School. Maggi Stivers | Bemidji Pioneer

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