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Smith qualifies for fourth state tennis tournament

Park Rapids' Julia Smith qualified for her fourth state Class A girls tennis tournament with a runner-up finish in singles at Thursday's Section 8A tournament at Fargo.

Entering the Section 8A tournament, the Park Rapids girls tennis team was hoping to send a singles player and doubles team to state in the same season for only the fourth time in school history.

The Panthers fell short of achieving that goal, but senior Julia Smith did end up qualifying for the state Class A tournament in singles for the fourth year in a row.

Smith, the No. 2 seed, coasted to the championship match at Fargo's Courts Plus with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Megan Arens of Parkers Prairie and a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Maggie Dietrich of East Grand Forks during Wednesday's first two rounds. Arens was the No. 15 seed and Dietrich was the No. 10 seed.

Smith earned a return trip to the section title match with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Perham's Josie Beachy, the No. 3 seed, during Thursday's semifinals. Smith's bid to win the section title was denied with a 6-0, 6-2 loss to Izabella Edin of Staples-Motley in Thursday's championship match. Edin was the top seed and rated No. 2 in the latest state Class A poll.

When Roseau's Jodi Ostroski, the No. 4 seed, defeated Beachy 6-2, 6-2 in the third-place match, Smith had to play Ostroski in a true-second match for the final state berth. Smith avenged a 6-0, 6-4 loss to Ostroski during Tuesday's team tournament with a 6-2, 6-1 win to return to state.

"I knew Julia had a great chance of returning to state again this year as long as she played with confidence. This year was the most nervous I have seen her, but she showed once again how tough she is mentally, especially when it comes to the section tournament. In the semifinals against Josie, she played great and controlled the points. Against Izabella, she again played great and was in every game. She just couldn't finish off the game when she needed to and Izabella was able to. Watching her play the semifinals and finals, I knew she was playing her best tennis of the season and was poised to make a return trip to state," said Park Rapids head coach Brianne Morris. "When Julia played Jodi the last time, I could tell she was putting extra pressure on herself and that affected her play. She knew she could beat Jodi and she wanted to, but Jodi kept putting the pressure back on Julia and Julia would make errors. Jodi is a very good player and gets to everything. Before the true-second match, we talked about how she just needed to be patient, even if it meant the points were going to be long. After she got the first three games in the first set, I knew she was going to be OK. She did exactly what we talked about and came out the winner."

Park Rapids' Drew Hilmanowski and Natalie Kinkel were also looking to earn a state berth in doubles, but fell short.

Hilmanowski and Kinkel entered as the No. 2 seed in doubles and opened with a 6-0, 6-1 win over East Grand Forks' Delaney Aaker and Kayla Partlow in the first round and a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Crookston's Kendall Wahouske and Jaiden Lizakowski in the quarterfinals. Aaker and Partlow were the No. 15 seed and Wahouske and Lizakowski were the No. 10 seed.

Hilmanowski and Kinkel were denied a spot in the finals with a 6-4, 7-5 loss to Roseau's Kate Wensloff and Lauren Johnson in the semifinals. The Park Rapids duo rebounded for a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win over Abby Burquest and Kathryn Burquest of Parkers Prairie in the third-place match, but were denied a chance at a true-second match when Wensloff and Johnson lost to Crookston's Ally Tiedemann and Amy Follette 6-2, 6-2 in the title match. Tiedemann and Follette were the No. 1 seed and the defending section champs while Wensloff and Johnson were the No. 3 seed. The Burquests were the No. 5 seed.

"I knew Drew and Natalie had a chance, but I also knew that it was going to be tough because there was so much competition in doubles. They played well, but made more errors and Roseau was able to capitalize on those mistakes and got the critical points," said Morris. "I am proud of the way they came out and played and competed. They could have easily given up and not tried in the third-place match, but they continued to play hard and ended the season with a win."

Park Rapids' other two section entrants were eliminated in the first round.

Abby Morris, the No. 13 seed in singles, was eliminated with a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Ostroski in the first round while Haley MacPherson and Tori Hilmanowski, the No. 12 seed in doubles, were eliminated with a 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-1 loss to the Burquests in the opening round.

"I knew that Abby was going to have tough competition against Jodi. Before she played, I told her to go out, have fun and give it 100 percent. She did that and more. While the score doesn't show it, she played right with Jodi. She was in every game. She just didn't get the clutch points. This wa a great experience for a 7th grader and she learned so much about herself and that she will be able to play with anyone in the future," said Brianne Morris. "Haley and Tori had just as good a shot as anyone to make it to Day 2 in doubles. They played the eventual fourth-place team and started out great. They won the first set and continued to compete. The difference in the second and third sets was that the other team picked it up. I was proud of the way Haley and Tori continued to fight and never gave up. They worked really hard the last two weeks of practice and it really showed in the way they played."

Smith will make her final state appearance when the state Class A tournament begins Oct. 27 at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

SINGLES

First round

Izabella Edin, Staples-Motley, over Kate Schmidt, Wadena-Deer Creek, 6-0, 6-0; Catherine Tiedemann, Crookston, over Lindy Jones, Wadena-Deer Creek, by default; Makayla Melvin, Perham, over Elise Tangquist, Crookston, 6-3, 6-3; Jodi Ostroski, Roseau, over Abby Morris, Park Rapids, 6-1, 6-0; Josie Beachy, Perham, over Bailey McMahon, East Grand Forks, 6-0,6 -0; Ashley Smith, Staples-Motley, over Madeline Schroeder, Parkers Prairie, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3; Maggie Dietrich, East Grand Forks, over Mack Bergstrom, Roseau, 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4; Julia Smith, Park Rapids, over Megan Arens, Parkers Prairie, 6-0, 6-1.

Quarterfinals

Edin over Tiedemann 6-0, 6-0; Ostroski over Melvin 6-1, 6-1; Beachy over A. Smith 6-1, 6-2; J. Smith over Dietrich 6-0, 6-1.

Semifinals

Edin over Ostroski 6-0, 6-0; J. Smith over Beachy 6-0, 6-1.

Finals

Edin over J. Smith 6-0, 6-2 (title); Ostroski over Beachy 6-2, 6-2 (third place); J. Smith over Ostroski 6-2, 6-1 (true second).

DOUBLES

First round

Ally Tiedemann/Amy Follette, Crookston, over Elle Birkeland/Michelle Swyter, Perham, 6-0, 6-0; Kelsie Weite/Katie Benson, Staples-Motley, over Jess Rondestvedt/McKayla Woods, Wadena-Deer Creek, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4); Abby Burquest/Kathryn Burquest, Parkers Prairie, over Haley MacPherson/Tori Hilmanowski, Park Rapids, 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-1; Jenna Dietrich/Emma Dietrich, East Grand Forks, over Mallory Weber/Brianna Schwantz, Perham, 6-4, 6-4; Kate Wensloff/Lauren Johnson, Roseau, over Summer Dobratz/Kamryn Arceneau, Parkers Prairie, 6-1, 6-2; Lexi Johnson/Claire Wolhowe, Staples-Motley, over Sarah Moen/Abby Westrum, Wadena-Deer Creek, 6-3, 6-3; Kendall Wahouske/Jaeden Lizakowski, Crookston, over Haley Ostgaard/Madi Lee, Roseau, 6-4, 6-4; Drew Hilmanowski/Natalie Kinkel, Park Rapids, over Delaney Aaker/Kayla Partlow, East Grand Forks, 6-0, 6-1.

Quarterfinals

Tiedemann/Follette over Weite/Benson 6-0, 6-0; A. Burquest/K. Burquest over J. Dietrich/E. Dietrich 7-5, 7-5; Wensloff/Johnson over Johnson/wolhowe 6-1, 2-6, 6-2; Hilmanowski/Kinkel over Wahouske/Lizakowski 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Semifinals

Tiedemann/Follette over A. Burquest/K. Burquest 6-1, 6-2; Wensloff/Johnson over Hilmanowski/Kinkel 6-4, 7-5.

Finals

Tiedemann/Follette over Wensloff/Johnson 6-2, 6-2 (title); Hilmanowski/Kinkel over A. Burquest/K. Burquest 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 (third).

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