SARTELL -- The Bemidji High School girls tennis team came within one match of a section championship on Friday, instead placing second in the Section 8AA Tournament in Sartell.
The Lumberjacks, seeded No. 2 in the North Subsection, defeated South No. 1 Foley in the semifinals by a 4-3 decision before falling victim to a 5-2 score in the final against South No. 2 Becker.
“I’m really, really proud of the way the girls conducted themselves all season,” BHS head coach Kyle Fodness said. “They had a really great season to be proud of. We have a very tough section, and they took down the 1 seed out of the South. We didn’t quite have the match to win the final, but all credit to Becker. We just didn’t quite match up with them.”
In the semifinals against Foley, Bemidji swept on the doubles side. Lexi Leitner and Nettie Kimble won 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in comeback fashion at top doubles, Chloe Hasbargen and Paige Anderson came through 6-2, 7-5 at the No. 2 spot, and Hannah Nelson and Kylen Fenson breezed 6-3, 6-1 at the third position.
The Falcons won at the Nos. 2-4 singles spots, and so Savannah Haugen had the deciding showdown against Peyton Kopel at No. 1 singles. After losing the first set 4-6, Haugen rebounded 6-3 in the second but then trailed 4-1 in the third. Nevertheless, Haugen delivered a 6-4 victory to send Bemidji into the section final.
“We had a really nice match against Foley in the semifinal,” Fodness said. “We came in as, (as) most outside observers would say, probably a pretty good underdog. Foley was, I think, probably a pretty heavy favorite to win the section.”
Becker defeated Brainerd -- the North No. 1 seed -- 6-1 in the other semifinal. But matched against the Bulldogs in the 8AA final, the Jacks fell just shy of their first section title since 2008.
Haugen won 6-0, 6-4 at the top spot, while Nelson and Fenson paired up for a 6-2, 6-3 victory at third doubles, but those were the only points BHS picked up on the day.
“It’s the match you want to play,” Fodness said. “You put yourself in that section final match and anything can happen. Today we didn’t have it, but I thought we played really well in a number of spots.”
The Section 8AA Individual Tournament concludes Saturday, Oct. 12, in Sartell for Haugen and the doubles pairing of Leitner and Hasbargen.
But for the team’s seven seniors -- Aftyn Schmidt, Alyssa Koebke, Bethany Chatterton, Macy Hietala, Paige Headlee, Nelson and Fenson -- Friday’s action closed the books on their high school tennis careers.
“You look at the great senior leadership we have, that’s the most important thing,” Fodness said. “Those seniors did a super job this year. They’re going to be graduating, but they’re not really leaving because their influence is going to stick through on the team next year.”
Bemidji 4, Foley 3
No. 1: Haugen (BHS) def. Kopel 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
No. 2: Beier (FHS) def. Offerdahl 7-5, 6-7, 6-4.
No. 3: Kloss (FHS) def. Dondelinger 6-3, 6-4.
No. 4: Hageman (FHS) def. Schmidt 6-2, 6-3.
No. 1: Leitner/Kimble (BHS) def. B. Gapinski/Novak 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
No. 2: Hasbargen/Anderson (BHS) def. Falk/Sa. Gapinski 6-2, 7-5.
No. 3: Nelson/Fenson (BHS) def. O’Brien/Sy. Gapinski 6-3, 6-1.
Becker 5, Bemidji 2
No. 1: Haugen (BEM) def. Nuest 6-0, 6-4.
No. 2: Ritchie (BKR) def. Offerdahl 6-3, 6-2.
No. 3: Moe (BKR) def. Dondelinger 6-0, 6-2.
No. 4: Brown (BKR) def. Schmidt 6-2, 6-0.
No. 1: Bengtson/Lindquist (BKR) def. Leitner/Kimble 7-5, 6-0.
No. 2: Yoerg/Toedter (BKR) def. Hasbargen/Anderson 7-6, 4-6, 10-3.
No. 3: Nelson/Fenson (BEM) def. Murphy/Hendrickson 6-2, 6-3.