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Renner, Smith make history by placing in doubles at state meet

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Julia Renner and Christina Smith made history at Friday's state Class A girls tennis tournament.

The Park Rapids juniors finished fourth at the Reed Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis to become the first doubles team in school history to bring home a medal from the state tournament. The only other Park Rapids tennis player to earn a state medal was Megan Reich, who finished fourth in singles in 1995.

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"I wanted them to do well and they did. I didn't care if they won or lost as long as they played well and left it all out on the court. That is all I could ask for and they did that," said Park Rapids head coach Brianne Morris. "They started their first match with some great shots and they were ready to play. After the fist couple of games, they were ready to go and just kept up with the intensity and consistency. After winning their second match on Thursday, they were ready to play right away and try for a shot at winning in the semifinals and make it to the championship match."

Smith and Renner, who qualified for state by winning the Section 8A title, opened the state tournament Thursday by defeating Lake City seniors Allison Harvey and Katie Wallerich 6-0, 6-1 and Parkers Prairie's Brenna Warren (a senior) and Renee Warren (a sophomore) 6-0, 6-3.

"They came out so ready and started hitting their shots right way and that gave them confidence," said Morris. "They started very solid and never stopped. They played amazing with few errors."

During Friday's semifinals, Blake seniors Abby Rickeman and Maddy Hall defeated the Park Rapids duo 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

"I wasn't really sure what to expect in the semifinals. They played so well on Thursday and I thought they had a chance against anybody. They were able to take away the other teams' strategies on Thursday that I thought they may be able to do that on Friday," said Morris. "After they won the first set, I was just so excited for them and thought they had a chance. The Blake School just really stepped up their game in the second and third sets. It was great tennis by both teams and fun to watch."

Renner and Smith then lost to Virginia's Taylor Gunderson (a junior) and Brylee Seitz (a sophomore) 6-4, 6-3 in the third-place match. St. Paul Academy seniors Sarah Hays and Gina Nguyen defeated Rickeman and Hall 6-4, 6-0 in the championship match.

This was Smith's third straight trip and Renner's first trip to state. Smith and Alyssa Carlson won the section title in doubles in 2010 and went 1-2 at state. Last year, Smith was the section runner-up in singles and made history by becoming the first Park Rapids tennis player to qualify for state in both singles and doubles. Smith lost both her singles match at state last fall.

Renner and Smith, who entered the state tournament with a 17-0 record as doubles partners, ended the season with a 19-2 overall record.

"It was so much fun to watch and see them play well against some of the best doubles teams in the state," said Morris. "I know that they have worked hard for years, not only during the tennis season, but also in the off-season. It was fun to see all that hard work pay off and to see them come home with a state medal. They definitely exceeded my expectations."

BY Vance Carlson

vcarlson@parkrapidsenterprise.com

Julia Renner and Christina Smith made history at Friday's state Class A girls tennis tournament.

The Park Rapids juniors finished fourth at the Reed Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis to become the first doubles team in school history to bring home a medal from the state tournament. The only other Park Rapids tennis player to earn a state medal was Megan Reich, who finished fourth in singles in 1995.

Smith and Renner, who qualified for state by winning the Section 8A title, opened the state tournament Thursday by defeating Lake City seniors Allison Harvey and Katie Wallerich 6-0, 6-1 and Parkers Prairie's Brenna Warren (a senior) and Renee Warren (a sophomore) 6-0, 6-3.

During Friday's semifinals, Blake seniors Abby Rickeman and Maddy Hall defeated the Park Rapids duo 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Renner and Smith then lost to Virginia's Taylor Gunderson (a junior) and Brylee Seitz (a sophomore) 6-4, 6-3 in the third-place match. St. Paul Academy seniors Sarah Hays and Gina Nguyen defeated Rickeman and Hall 6-4, 6-0 in the championship match.

This was Smith's third straight trip and Renner's first trip to state. Smith and Alyssa Carlson won the section title in doubles in 2010 and went 1-2 at state. Last year, Smith was the section runner-up in singles and made history by becoming the first Park Rapids tennis player to qualify for state in both singles and doubles. Smith lost both her singles match at state last fall.

Renner and Smith, who entered the state tournament with a 17-0 record as doubles partners, ended the season with a 19-2 overall record.

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