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Smith, Renner finish 4th again at state tourney

  Christina Smith and Julia Renner closed out historic careers with another historic finish at the state Class A girls tennis tournament.

     The Park Rapids seniors brought home medals for the second year in a row by placing fourth in doubles at Friday’s state tournament at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

     Smith and Renner, who became the first Park Rapids doubles team to bring home a state medal by placing fourth at last year’s state tournament, returned to the semifinals with a pair of wins on Thursday.

     The two-time Section 8A champions opened the state tournament with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Fairmont seniors Aubrey Green and Melissa Visselman before advancing to the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Waseca junior Katie Tlusty and sophomore Anna Hoehn.

     During Friday’s finals, Renner and Smith lost to sophomore Kendall Kozikowski and freshman Grace Zumwinkle of Breck 6-3, 6-0 in the semifinals before closing out their high school careers with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 loss to senior Alexia Brascugli and junior Katelyn Rice of Eveleth-Gilbert in the third-place match.

     Breck seniors Patricia Zhao and Sunny Tang defeated Kozikowski and Zumwinkle 7-5, 6-2 in the championship match while Virginia’s Taylor Gunderson and Brylee Seitz defeated Staples-Motley’s Kelsey Zetah and Nikki Edin 6-2, 6-0 in the consolation title match.

     Renner and Smith capped off their careers as doubles partners by going 15-3 this season and 34-5 over the last two seasons. Renner compiled a career record of 124-37 while Smith went 117-44.

     Park Rapids’ Julia Smith also had an impressive tournament in her state debut.

     The Park Rapids freshman, who qualified for state as the Section 8A runner-up in singles, rallied from a 0-5 deficit in the first set to defeat St. James senior Lorena Hernandez 7-5, 6-4 in Thursday’s first round before being eliminated with a 6-1, 6-2 loss to Holy Family Catholic junior Danielle Gannon in the quarterfinals. Gannon upset No. 2-seeded Sofia Terzic, a senior from Rochester Lourdes, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round.

     Top-seeded Sonya Das, a senior from St. Paul Academy, defended her singles title with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Gannon in the title match.

     Staples-Motley senior Mikayla Wing, who defeated Smith in the section title match, defeated Blue Earth junior Karleigh Wolff 6-2, 6-2 in the first round before being eliminated with a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Foley senior Abby Kantor in the quarterfinals. Kantor was the No. 4 seed.

     Smith ended the season with a 20-4 record in singles to raise her career singles record to 38-7.