Tennis individuals go to State
Three Blue Earth Area tennis players qualified for the Class A state meet last Wednesday at the Swanson Tennis Center located on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College.
Te Armstrong qualified in the singles bracket. Joining her at the state meet are McKenna Dutton and Macie Stevermer who qualified in the doubles bracket.
The No. 3-seeded Armstrong defeated the No. 2-seeded Vanessa Barkosky from Maple River in the semifinals thus earning a trip to the section finals. Armstrong avenged a loss to Barkosky earlier this year defeating her by a score of 6-2, 6-4.
“I knew I had to play my game,” Armstrong said. “I wanted to do certain things that I thought could help me win.”
Armstrong added, “I wouldn’t be here without my teammates and coaches. They helped me get here.”
She faced another familiar opponent in the finals match. The No. 1-seeded Renata Hernandez from St. James defeated Armstrong 6-1, 6-0 to claim first place in the section.
A need for a true-second match was negated when Barkosky won the third-place match against Carissa Cunningham of Luverne.
Armstrong had shut out her two opponents on the first day of the tournament, Friday, Oct. 5, by scores of 6-0, 6-0 both times.
Dutton and Stevermer came into the tournament as the No. 5-seeded team. Their victories last week had earned them a spot in the semifinals against the No. 1-seeded team of Paige Ahrendt and Lauren Lapthorn of the Pipestone Area Arrows.
Perhaps Dutton and Stevermer should be called the “cardiac kids” for the tension and thrills they gave to their fans watching the match.
The Buccaneer duo dropped the first set 6-4 and were trailing in the second set 4-3 before mounting a comeback and gaining a service break to take a 5-4 lead.
Lapthorn and Ahrendt fought back to tie the set at six games apiece and force a tiebreaker.
The first team to score seven points and win by two would win the set.
It was not looking good for the BEA pair. Lapthorn and Ahrendt jumped out to a 6-3 lead and needed only one more point to claim the set and the match.
The “cardiac kids” were not done yet. They fought off three match points and then went on to win the tiebreaker 9-7 and even the match at one set apiece.
Their momentum carried them in the third set giving them the early lead in the set. Pipestone Area mounted a comeback but fell short as the Bucs prevailed 6-4.
Dutton and Stevermer avoided a true second match when Lapthorn and Ahrendt defeated another Pipestone Area team 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) for third place.
Dutton and Stevermer won their two matches on the first day of the tournament on Friday, Oct. 5, to advance to the second day last Wednesday. They won their first match 6-1, 6-0, and the second one 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3.
This is Armstrong’s second trip to the state tournament as an individual having qualified last year for the doubles tournament with Julia Hanson. Dutton and Stevermer will be making their first appearance at state on the individual side of the tournament.
Blue Earth Area qualified as a team in 2017.
The Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis is the site of the Class A tennis tournament. All three BEA athletes begin play on Oct. 25 with Armstrong set to go at 8 a.m. Dutton and Stevermer are scheduled to start two hours later at 10 a.m.
BEA’s other singles player, Arika Howard, won her first match on Friday, Oct. 5, but lost her second one and did not advance to last Wednesday. The doubles team of Carissa Engesser and Sydney Blagg also did not advance past the first day.