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East Grand Forks defeats Panthers in section title match

Maggie Dietrich proved to be the key factor as East Grand Forks qualified for the state Class A girls tennis tournament for the first time in school history while denying Park Rapids that same accomplishment.

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Chloe Johnson won two close matches at No. 4 singles to account for the deciding points as the Panthers advanced to the Section 8A title match with 4-3 wins over Roseau and Crookston. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Maggie Dietrich proved to be the key factor as East Grand Forks qualified for the state Class A girls tennis tournament for the first time in school history while denying Park Rapids that same accomplishment.

Dietrich wasn't in the lineup in EGF's 5-2 loss to the Panthers during the regular season. Even though Dietrich lost in her No. 2 singles match, having the freshman back in the lineup enabled the Green Wave to put a stronger group on the court and prevail 5-2 in a hard-fought battle in Friday's Section 8A championship match.

Park Rapids won in straight sets at No. 1 singles and No. 2 singles while prevailing in close matches at No. 3 singles, No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles in the 5-2 win over the Green Wave during the regular season. The Panthers posted straight-set wins at the top singles positions, but EGF's stronger lineup overturned the three close losses to earn a state berth.

"I knew it was going to be close. Having Maggie back in their lineup made a huge difference as it moved everyone back down a spot, which makes their lineup stronger," said Park Rapids head coach Brianne Morris. "Our girls were in every match and it easily could have gone 5-2 our way. EGF just won the big points when they needed them."

Park Rapids repeated wins at the top singles spots as Natalie Kinkel defeated Jenna Dietrich and Abby Morris defeated Maggie Dietrich in straight sets.

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EGF countered those wins and evened the match with a straight-set win at No. 4 singles and a win in three sets at No. 3 singles.

That left the outcome up to the three doubles matches.

EGF, which won matches at No. 1 doubles and No. 2 doubles in straight sets during the regular season, won those matches in three sets while adding a straight-set win at No. 3 doubles to pull off the win.

"(Assistant coach) Chelsie (Weeding) and I wanted it so bad for the girls. We put the best lineup out there we could and fell just short. I wasn't disappointed in the girls' play at all. They all went out and gave 110 percent. I saw some of their best play. They worked so hard as a team and they wanted it so bad. We did have a tough road to get to the championship and I'm super proud of the girls and how well they competed until the last point," said Morris, whose team ended the season with a 14-8 record in dual meets. "I'm so proud of how they worked as a team. EGF was just the better team on Friday. It was a tough loss, but the girls should hold their heads high and know they did great."

East Grand Forks 5, Park Rapids 2

No. 1 singles: Natalie Kinkel, PR, over Jenna Dietrich 6-2, 6-0.

No. 2 singles: Abby Morris, PR, over Maggie Dietrich 6-3, 6-0.

No. 3 singles: Brynn Havis, EGF, over Kendra Coborn 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

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No. 4 singles: Katelyn Farder, EGF, over Chloe Johnson 6-0, 6-0.

No. 1 doubles: McKenna Aitchison/Aleah Hangsleben, EGF, over Jada Renneberg/Rachael Herman 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

No. 2 doubles: Delaney Aaker/Kendal Rand, EGF, over Gracie Eischens/Mickey Clark 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

No. 3 doubles: Kate Johnson/Thea Haaven-Farstad, EGF, over Madison Johnson/Meagan Powers 6-0, 6-3.

Johnson delivers

Chloe Johnson was determined to help the Panthers advance to the section finals.

The senior won the pivotal matches against No. 8 Roseau and No. 4 Crookston during Thursday's first two rounds as Park Rapids advanced to the section title match.

During the regular season, the Panthers defeated Roseau 5-2 and Crookston 5-2 twice in three close matches.

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The rematches in the section tournament were just as close.

In the first meeting with Roseau, the Panthers posted straight-set wins at No. 1 singles, No. 2 singles and No. 3 singles and prevailed at No. 4 singles and No. 2 doubles in third-set tiebreakers while dropping a third-set tiebreaker at No. 3 doubles.

In the section quarterfinals, Kinkel, Morris and Coborn duplicated their success with straight-set wins in singles. Johnson secured the win with a close 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 4 singles.

During the two regular-season meetings against Crookston, the Panthers won the top three singles matches while adding wins at No. 2 doubles (in a pair of third-set tiebreakers) and No. 3 doubles (with one of those matches going into a tiebreaker).

The Panthers used straight-set wins by Kinkel, Morris and Coborn to offset straight-set wins in doubles by Crookston. Johnson delivered again, rallying after dropping the first set for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 win to send Park Rapids to the title match.

In Thursday's other quarterfinal matches, No. 2 East Grand Forks blanked No. 7 Wadena-Deer Creek 7-0, No. 3 Perham ousted No. 6 Parkers Prairie 7-0 and Crookston edged No. 5 Staples-Motley 4-3. East Grand Forks shut out Perham 7-0 in Thursday's other semifinal match.

"There wasn't a big difference with Roseau. His girls were just ready to play and we all knew that. Drawing Roseau in the first round was probably the hardest 1 versus 8 matchup in a really long time. I had a lot of confidence in our 1-2-3 singles players and I knew we just needed one more win somewhere else. I was pretty confident Chloe at 4 was going to do it," said Morris. "Against Crookston, he played a strong doubles lineup. After seeing the lineup he used, I knew we needed all four singles players to win. Our doubles teams played well, but it was tough competition. Again, Natalie, Abby and Kendra did great and then Chloe came through with a tough three-set match that lasted 2 1/2 hours with the last game alone lasting 30 minutes. She had just recently lost to her, but I knew she wasn't going to lose to her again. She was ready and came through for us again. It was so fun to watch her do well."

Park Rapids 4, Roseau 3

No. 1 singles: Natalie Kinkel, PR, over Jodi Ostroski 6-1, 6-4.

No. 2 singles: Abby Morris, PR, over Jayda McFarlane 6-1, 6-3.

No. 3 singles: Kendra Coborn, PR, over Olivia Urness 6-0, 6-3.

No. 4 singles: Chloe Johnson, PR, over Charlene Grahn 6-4, 7-5.

No. 1 doubles: Kiara Flaig/Grace Walsh, R, over Jada Renneberg/Rachael Herman 6-4, 6-2.

No. 2 doubles: Kiersten Flaig/Lindsay McFarlane, R, over Gracie Eischens/Mickey Clark 6-3, 6-2.

No. 3 doubles: Haylee Bennett/Madison Verbout, R, over Madison Johnson/Meagan Powers 6-2, 6-4.

Park Rapids 4, Crookston 3

No. 1 singles: Natalie Kinkel, PR, over Hannah Street 6-2, 6-0.

No. 2 singles: Abby Morris, PR, over Eden Haller 6-1, 6-0.

No. 3 singles: Kendra Coborn, PR, over Elysa Christensen 6-0, 6-1.

No. 4 singles: Chloe Johnson, PR, over Halle Winjum 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

No. 1 doubles: Emma Borowicz/Catherine Tiedemann, C, over Jada Renneberg/Rachael Herman 6-1, 6-0.

No. 2 doubles: Hayden Winjum/Emma Osborn, C, over Gracie Eischens/Mickey Clark 6-3, 6-2.

No. 3 doubles: Hannah Lindemoen/Emma Gunderson, C, over Madison Johnson/Meagan Powers 6-4, 6-1.

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Members of the Park Rapids girls tennis team posed with the Section 8A runner-up trophy following a 5-2 loss to East Grand Forks in Friday's championship match at Courts Plus in Fargo. Submitted photo

Related Topics: TENNIS
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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