Heading into the Section 3A tennis finals on Oct. 13, against the St. James Area Saints, the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers had suffered only one loss. That loss occurred in the Big South Conference Championship on Oct. 3, and it was the Saints who had handed the Bucs a 4-3 defeat on BEA’s home court.
BEA returned the favor by traveling to St. James and defeating the Saints 5-2 on their home court to claim their second consecutive Section title.
“It was a great ending,” BEA senior and No. 1 doubles player McKenna Dutton said. “I was just glad we even got to play this year with the pandemic and everything.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and the concerns associated with it led the Minnesota State High School League to make the decision to not hold a State Tournament in tennis this year.
So even though BEA won the Section meet, their season has come to an end.
“It is a good way to end,” Bucs’ No. 1 singles player Ta Armstrong offered. “I am sad we do not get to go to State but it is good to be Section champs.”
The Saints jumped out to an early lead in the meet when their No. 2 doubles team of Allison Bluedorn and Sofia Solorzano defeated the Bucs’ Lyndsey Borris and Britt Howard 6-1, 6-2.
St. James increased their margin over BEA to 2-0 when hard-hitting Jaelyn Haler downed Marissa Benz of the Bucs 6-0, 6-2.
At No. 4 singles, BEA’s Addison Armstrong got the Maroon and Gold on the board with a 6-4, 6-0, triumph over Eva Romsdahl.
A win by the Bucs’ No. 3 doubles team of Cali Beyer and Olivia Dutton tied the match at 2-2.
Beyer and Dutton won in straight sets over the Saints’ Emma Anderson and Mika Wessels 6-4, 6-2.
The Bucs took their first lead of the day when the No. 1 doubles team of McKenna Dutton and Kylie Rosenau defeated Gaby Trapero and Sailor Mohlenbrock 6-2, 6-3.
The St. James Area duo had beaten Dutton and Rosenau in straight sets when they met for the conference championships but Dutton and Rosenau controlled this match.
“When we played the first time I felt like Kylie and I were a little off and St. James was really on,” Dutton shared. “This time it was just the opposite.”
BEA No. 3 singles player Arika Howard clinched the title for the Bucs with a three-set victory over Mya Hanson.
Hanson had won the first set 6-4 but Howard battled back to take the next two sets 6-3, 6-0.
The No. 1 singles match between the Bucs’ Ta Armstrong and the Saints’ Ellie Becker also took three sets to determine a winner.
Becker had defeated Armstrong in three sets when they played in Blue Earth on Oct. 3, and she continued her success by outscoring Armstrong 6-1 to take the first set.
Becker had leads of 3-2 and 5-4 in the second set before Armstrong rallied to win the second set 7-5.
“I had to work on my mental game,” Armstrong explained. “I just began taking one point at a time.”
Armstrong closed out the match by winning the third set 6-1.
The Bucs end their season with a 14-1 record while the Saints finished with a record of 13-1.
It was the last high school competition for six BEA seniors. They are Ta Armstrong, Cali Beyer, Lindsey Borris, McKenna Dutton, Arika Howard and Britt Howard.
“It was really weird because it was the last time we got to play together as a team,” Dutton said. “Yet, it was very nice because we got to go out with a win in our senior year and that is what we all wanted.”