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Panthers serve up victories at state tennis tournament

Brianne Morris wasn't sure how seniors Natalie Kinkel and Kendra Coborn and freshman Abby Morris would handle the nerves of playing at the state Class A girls tennis tournament.

Brianne Morris wasn’t sure how seniors Natalie Kinkel and Kendra Coborn and freshman Abby Morris would handle the nerves of playing at the state Class A girls tennis tournament.

All three players handled the pressure well by winning their first matches Thursday morning at the Reed Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis. Despite not winning a game and being eliminated in Thursday afternoon’s quarterfinals by the eventual finalists, Morris couldn’t have been happier with the effort of her players.

“The girls were not too nervous. Natalie knew what to expect, so she didn’t seem nervous at all. Kendra and Abby seemed a little nervous at first, but settled in quickly,” said Morris. “They were so excited to be there and knew it was an honor to be at state. They wanted to go, play hard and do their best.”

Kinkel (who won the Section 8A singles title to advance to her second straight state tournament) opened with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Blue Earth Area sophomore Tea Armstrong while Coborn and Morris (who won the Section 8A doubles title to advance to their first state tournament) opened with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Belle Plaine seniors Kiersten Skelley and Siri Kuhn.

“I was so happy with how they played in their first matches. They proved to everyone why they were playing at the state meet,” said Morris. “Natalie played with a lot of confidence and was moving her opponent around. Kendra and Abby did a great job of working as a doubles team and had great shots to end points quickly.”

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In Thursday afternoon's quarterfinals, Kinkel was eliminated with a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Blake junior Arlina Shen, who entered as the No. 1 seed. Coborn and Morris were also eliminated Thursday afternoon with a 6-0, 6-0 loss to the Litchfield duo of senior Shanna Kinny and sophomore Avery Stillwell. Kinny and Stillwell entered as the No. 2 seed.

Shen went on to defeat Trinity School’s Katie Mulvey 6-0, 6-4 in the singles championship match while Kinny and Stillwell lost to Rochester Lourdes’ Clare Palen and Natalie Allison 6-2, 6-1 in the doubles final.

“Natalie was able to hit with the eventual singles champ, but (Shen) never made any errors. We thought Natalie would hit a winner and then (Shen) would get it back. She was just super consistent,” said Morris. “Kendra and Abby were working super hard out there, but again their opponents just never missed anything. They played as well as they could against the best in the state.”

Roseau’s Jodi Ostroski (the Section 8A runner-up in singles) lost both her matches while Crookston’s Emma Borowicz and Catherine Tiedemann (the Section 8A runner-up in doubles) lost both their matches Thursday.

Kinkel (who won one of three matches in her state debut last season) concluded her senior season with a 27-7 record and finished with a 118-53 career mark. Coborn and Morris went 7-4 as doubles partners this season with Coborn going 24-10 overall and Morris compiling a 27-6 overall record this season.

“I was so happy for Natalie and Kendra to end their careers at state. It was fun to watch them compete with some of the best tennis players in the state. I know they will remember that for a lifetime. They played well and can be proud of all that they accomplished in their tennis careers,” said Morris. “I hope Abby is able to take the experience and grow from it and hopefully return to state in the future. It is not an easy task to make it and to return is even harder. She knows she has to continue working hard so she can return to the state meet.”

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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