BEMIDJI -- Playing at home for the first time in almost two years, the Bemidji High School boys tennis team fell 4-3 in a close match to Alexandria at the BHS tennis courts Tuesday evening.

“There were a lot of really close matches,” BHS head coach Kyle Fodness said. “Alexandria is a really well-coached team and a very athletic team. There were a lot of good things we did on the courts today.”

The weather has been so cold this spring that the Lumberjacks have spent most of their practice time wearing hats and gloves, so they’ve been limited as far as normal playing conditions.

“It was our second match of the year, and you could tell a couple of times,” Fodness said. “But that’s not a bad thing. We look at that as just opportunities and areas to improve and all the boys look at it the same way.”

Bemidji junior John McNallan returns a serve in a doubles match against Alexandria on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at the BHS tennis courts. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Bemidji junior John McNallan returns a serve in a doubles match against Alexandria on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at the BHS tennis courts. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

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BHS earned two wins at singles from Filippo Buffo and Noah Johnson, and a victory at doubles from Logan Jensen and Casey Rupp. Buffo captured a 6-1, 6-1 straight-sets win, while Johnson overcame a second-set defeat to win 6-1, 5-7, 7-5. Jensen and Rupp prevailed in straight sets 7-5, 6-2.

“Filippo took care of business with a good win,” Fodness said. “He’s a smart player out on the courts and he did a really good job.”

The match came down to No. 4 singles. Bemidji’s Isaiah Cerven won the first set 6-2 before Alexandria’s Cole Haabala took set two 6-3 and forced a winner-take-all third set. The two battled to the end with Haabala edging Cerven 6-4 to clinch the win for the Cardinals.

“It’s (Cerven’s) first year playing varsity,” Fodness said, “but he did a good job of following his game plan and had a good match.”

The loss dropped Bemidji to 1-1 on the young season.

Alexandria coaches Dave Ronning and John Schmidt and the Cardinals paid their respects to late BHS coach Mark Fodness on Tuesday. Alexandria presented the Fodness family with flowers and tennis balls inscribed with their tributes to the longtime coach during introductions Tuesday. Mark Fodness died of a heart attack last November.

“They were very close with him, and each coaching staff admired each other a lot,” said Kyle Fodness, who has followed in his father’s footsteps as head coach. “That was a really nice gesture on their part.”

The Lumberjacks will continue a busy week Thursday, April 29, when they travel to Thief River Falls for the Northwest Quadrangular against TRF, Crookston and East Grand Forks. They’ll complete the week Friday, April 30, with a triangular in Fergus Falls against the Otters and Detroit Lakes.

Alexandria 4, Bemidji 3

Singles

No. 1: Buffo (BHS) def. Partington, 6-1, 6-1

No. 2: Johnson (BHS) def. Schabel, 6-1, 5-7, 7-5

No. 3: Jost (ALX) def. Harris, 6-3, 6-4

No. 4: Haabala (ALX) def. Cerven, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4

Doubles

No. 1: Lueck/Mulder (ALX) def. Dickinson/Jo. McNallan, 6-2, 7-6 (4)

No. 2: Jensen/Rupp (BHS) def. Nelson/Gilbertson, 7-5, 6-2

No. 3: Jabas/Lattimer (ALX) def. Fuhrman/Ja. McNallan, 6-4, 6-4