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Panthers ready for section play

Park Rapids eighth grader Julia Renner has an 11-12 record in singles this season. Renner and Christina Smith prevailed at No. 1 doubles against W-DC Thursday. (Vance Carlson / Enterprise)1 / 2
Park Rapids eighth grader Christina Smith has compiled a 6-11 record in singles so far this season. Smith received the No. 6 seed in singles for the Section 8A tournament. (Vance Carlson / Enterprise)2 / 2

Having matches rained out against Thief River Falls, East Grand Forks, Roseau and Crookston last week wasn't the way Nicole Brandt wanted to prepare the Park Rapids girls tennis team for the Section 8A tournament.

To make matters worse, the Panthers had to travel to Roseau Monday to make up a dual meet. That daylong trip resulted in a 6-1 loss as Park Rapids fell to 0-4 against the section's top four teams.

At Wednesday's seeding meeting, the Panthers were given the No. 5 seed and will open the section tournament against No. 4 Thief River Falls Monday at 11 a.m. at the Grand Forks Tennis Center. Thief River Falls defeated Park Rapids 4-3 in their only meeting this season.

Monday's other Section 8A quarterfinal matches pit No. 2 Crookston against No. 7 Perham at 8 a.m.; No. 3 East Grand Forks against No. 6 New York Mills at 9:30 a.m.; and No. 1 Roseau against No. 8 Wadena-Deer Creek at 12:30 p.m.

The winners advance to the section semifinals on Friday, Oct. 16 at the Grand Forks Tennis Center with matches at 9 and 11 a.m. The section title match is set for 1 p.m. next Friday. The section champion advances to the state Class A tournament, which will be held Oct. 27-28 at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis. Roseau, which is rated No. 10 in the latest state Class A poll, is the defending section champion.

The section individual tournament will start on Friday, Oct. 16 at approximately 3 p.m. after the team tournament is completed. The individual tournament will conclude with quarterfinal, semifinal and championship matches Saturday, Oct. 17 at the Grand Forks Tennis Center.

The champions and runners-up in both singles and doubles advance to the state Class A tournament, which will be held Oct. 29-30 at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center. Roseau's Abby Ness and Crookston's Hayley Myrold qualified in singles last season while Mindy Lawrence and Mary Kading defeated Alyssa Klingenberg and Alyssa Carlson as Park Rapids sent two doubles teams to state last season.

Kading and Carlson received the No. 1 seed in doubles this year while Karly Dickinson and Allie Girtz were given the No. 13 seed in doubles. In singles, Christina Smith was seeded No. 6 and Bailey LaCoursiere was seeded No. 13 for the Panthers. Myrold and Sarah Derosier received the No. 2 seed in doubles while Ness received the No. 1 seed and East Grand Forks' Jessamy Jones was seeded No. 2 in singles.

In the dual loss to Roseau Monday, Kading and Carlson prevailed in a third-set tiebreaker at No. 1 doubles to remain undefeated against section doubles teams. Dickinson and Girtz lost in a third-set tiebreaker while the Rams won the other five matches in straight sets. The victory gave Roseau an undefeated record against Section 8A opponents.

The Panthers were able to tune up for the section tournament with a 7-0 win over Wadena-Deer Creek in a make-up match Thursday afternoon at the Depot Courts.

Carlson, Kading and LaCoursiere combined to lose only two games in sweeping the top three singles spots. Emily Klingenberg won a third-set tiebreaker at No. 4 singles to complete the sweep.

In doubles play, Smith and Julia Renner were victorious in straight sets in their first match as No. 1 doubles partners. Dickinson and Girtz didn't drop a game at No. 2 doubles while Katie Walsh and Lexi Burlingame lost only one game at No. 3 doubles to give the Panthers their second 7-0 win of the season.

That victory lifted Park Rapids to 4-2 against Mid-State Conference teams and 6-9 overall in dual meets.