Carlson, Smith qualify for state tennis meet
Nicole Brandt was expecting a historic Section 8A tournament from the Park Rapids girls tennis team.
Brandt was hoping the Panthers would qualify for the state Class A tournament as a team for the first time in school history as well as qualify individually for the state meet.
The Panthers fell short of their first goal with a 5-0 loss to Roseau in Friday's championship match at the Grand Forks Center Court Fitness Club, but did fulfill their second goal when senior Alyssa Carlson and freshman Christina Smith won the section title in doubles to qualify for state.
Park Rapids did accomplish a feat for the first time in school history by having both singles players and both doubles teams advance to the section semifinals. Senior Bailey LaCoursiere defeated freshman Julia Renner for third place in singles while senior Karly Dickinson and junior Allie Girtz finished fourth in doubles. All six received medals.
"My individuals played some amazing tennis," said Brandt. "I knew that the girls would play well and I am glad that they proved that. It was exciting to see them all walk away with a medal."
Carlson and Smith entered the section meet as the No. 1 seed in doubles and made school history by living up to that ranking en route to winning the section title. Carlson became the first player in school history to qualify for state in doubles three times while Smith became the first freshman in school history to qualify for state in doubles.
The No. 1 seed opened the section meet with easy wins over Wadena-Deer Creek's Sarah Najjar and Desiree Isola in the first round on Oct. 11, New York Mills' Laruen Bach and Missy Hendrickx during Saturday's quarterfinals and Thief River Falls' Wendy Rima and Sabrina Okeson in Saturday's semifinals. Najjar and Isola were the No. 16 seed, Bach and Hendrickx were the No. 8 seed, and Rima and Okeson were the No. 5 seed.
In the championship match, Carlson and Smith defeated Roseau's Taylor McFarlane and Bethany Tangen, the No. 2 seed, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to state.
"I knew that they deserved the No. 1 spot and I am so glad that they proved that to everyone," said Brandt. "Alyssa and Christina showed every team that they are truly the best doubles team."
The Panthers' other three individual qualifiers also played well.
Dickinson and Girtz, the No. 7 seed, opened with a straight-set win over Perham's Hannah Brenk and Suzanne Coleman, the No. 10 seed, during Friday's first round before upsetting Rachel Lariviere and Rachel Proulx, the No. 2 seed, in three sets in the quarterfinals. The Park Rapids duo battled through another three-set thriller in the semifinals in a loss to McFarlane and Tangen. Rima and Okeson prevailed in the third-place match.
"My doubles teams did great," said Brandt. "We were very close to an all-Park Rapids championship. Karly and Allie played some long and intense matches. I was so proud of them."
In the singles bracket, LaCoursiere entered as the No. 3 seed and coasted past New York Mills' Kristin Kane (the No. 14 seed) Friday night and Crookston's Riley Erickson (the No. 6 seed) during Saturday's quarterfinals before falling to Roseau's Abby Ness (the defending section champion and No. 2 seed) in the semifinals. Renner entered as the No. 5 seed and defeated No. 12 Jenna Esala of New York Mills in Friday's first round and No. 4 Michelle Stahlecker of Crookston in the quarterfinals. Renner was denied a spot in the championship match with a loss to No. 1 Jessamy Jones of East Grand Forks.
In the finals, Jones defeated Ness 6-2, 6-1 while LaCoursiere defeated Renner 6-1, 6-0. Ness had won the last three section singles titles.
"Bailey had an awesome match against Abby. Almost every game went to deuce. It was wonderful to watch," said Brandt. "Julia showed that she is a fierce competitor in the section. She is going to be on the other coaches' list of players to watch out for."
The individual portion of the state Class A tournament will be held Oct. 28-29 at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.
Jessamy Jones, East Grand Forks, over Chelsea Honer, Perham, 6-0, 6-0; Chessa Jones, East Grand Forks, over Karlee Jorgenson, Thief River Falls, 6-2, 6-1; Julia Renner, Park Rapids, over Jenna Esala, New York Mills, 6-2, 6-1; Michelle Stahlecker, Crookston, over Ashley Silbernagel, Perham, 6-2, 6-2; Bailey LaCoursiere, Park Rapids, over Kristin Kane, New York Mills, 6-0, 6-0; Riley Erickson, Crookston, over Bailey Janzen, Roseau, 0-6, 7-5, 6-1; Macy Hartman, Wadena-Deer Creek, over Tayler Genereux, Thief River Falls, 6-4, 6-2; Abby Ness, Roseau, over Paige Hartman, Wadena-Deer Creek, 6-0, 6-0.
J. Jones over C. Jones 6-0, 6-0; Renner over Stahlecker 6-4, 6-4; LaCoursiere over Erickson 6-3, 6-1; Ness over Hartman 6-0, 6-1.
J. Jones over Renner 6-1, 6-1; Ness over LaCoursiere 6-3, 6-1.
J. Jones over Ness 6-2, 6-1 (title); LaCoursiere over Renner 6-1, 6-0 (third).
Alyssa Carlson/Christina Smith, Park Rapids, over Sarah Najjar/Desiree Isola, Wadena-Deer Creek, 6-0, 6-0; Lauren Bach/Missy Hendrickx, New York Mills, over Bailey Morris/Lilli Denison, Crookston, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3; Wendy Rima/Sabrina Okeson, Thief River Falls, over Erika Pritchett/Katie Berggren, East Grand Forks, 6-4, 6-3; Megan Foley/Ingrid Mlodzik, Roseau, over Mary Anne Kubler/Paige Biegler, Perham, 6-3, 6-2; Taylor McFarlane/Bethany Tangen, Roseau, over Jen Maki/Krista Guldseth, New York Mills, 6-1, 6-0; Lilly Mankie/Bethany Driscoll, East Grand Forks, over Hailey Johnson/Kaylee Koop, Thief River Falls, 6-1, 6-1; Allie Girtz/Karly Dickinson, Park Rapids, over Hannah Brenk/Suzanne Coleman, Perham, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4); Rachel Lariviere/Jaclyn Proulx, Crookston, over Hanna Jacobson/Ashley Carlson, Wadena-Deer Creek, 6-0, 6-0.
Carlson/Smith over Bach/Hendrickx 6-1, 6-1; Rima-Okeson over Foley/Mlodzik 6-2, 6-4; McFarlane/Tangen over Mankie/Driscoll 7-5, 6-3; Dickinson/Girtz over Lariviere/Proulx 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
Carlson/Smith over Rima/Okeson 6-1, 6-1; McFarlane/Tangen over Dickinson/Girtz 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Carlson/Smith over McFarlane/Tangen 6-3, 6-4 (title); Rima/Okeson over Dickinson/Girtz 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 (third).
Roseau denies state trip
After playing three close matches against Crookston and Roseau during the regular season, Brandt was confident the Panthers could defeat both teams and earn the school's first trip to the state Class A tournament.
The Panthers had to rally from a 3-0 deficit to edge Crookston 4-3 for the third time this season during Friday's semifinal match.
The championship match didn't do as well as the Panthers again fell behind 3-0 before Roseau won the next two matches to win its third section title in a row.
In the semifinals, Crookston took the early lead with wins at No. 3 singles, No. 2 doubles and No. 3 doubles.
The Panthers tied the match with victories by LaCoursiere at No. 2 singles, Renner at No. 4 singles and Carlson at No. 1 singles. Dickinson and Girtz capped the comeback with a three-set thriller at No. 3 doubles.
In the title match, Roseau won its third straight section title behind straight-set wins at the four singles spots and at No. 3 doubles. Because the match was decided after those matches, the No. 1 doubles and No. 2 doubles matches weren't played.
Roseau, which edged the Panthers 4-3 late in the regular season, will enter the state tournament ranked No. 8 in the Class A poll.
"The girls played well against Crookston. In the past we seem to have trouble getting past Crookston during sections. It was nice to be able to get past them this year," said Brandt, whose team ends the season with a 14-5 record in dual meets. "Roseau played well Friday. They had a strong singles lineup that gave us trouble."
Park Rapids 4, Crookston 3
No. 1 singles: Alyssa Carlson, PR, over Michelle Stahlecker 6-3, 6-4.
No. 2 singles: Bailey LaCoursiere, PR, over Riley Erickson 6-3, 6-1.
No. 3 singles: Lilli Denison, C, over Christina Smith 6-3, 6-4.
No. 4 singles: Julia Renner, PR, over Kylie Simmons 7-6 (7-1), 3-6, 6-1.
No. 1 doubles: Karly Dickinson/Allie Girtz, PR, over Rachel Lariviere/Jaclyn Proulx 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
No. 2 doubles: Bailey Morris/Lauren Graham, C, over Bonnie Baumgartner/Lexi Burlingame 6-1, 6-3.
No. 3 doubles: Caitlin Wahouske/Lizzy Awender, C, over Lydia Schaum/Heidi Schaum 6-1, 7-5.
Roseau 5, Park Rapids 0
No. 1 singles: Abby Ness, R, over Bailey LaCoursiere 6-3, 7-5.
No. 2 singles: Taylor McFarlane, R, over Julia Renner 6-3, 6-2.
No. 3 singles: Brittany Tangen, R, over Lydia Schaum 6-4, 6-3.
No. 4 singles: Ingrid Mlodzik, R, over Heidi Schaum 6-4, 6-1.
No. 3 doubles: Emily Hallie/Andrea Johnson, R, over Bonnie Baumgartner/Lexi Burlingame 6-2, 6-2.