Dragons bring home silver
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Blake School's reign over Class A state tennis continues. The Bears topped Litchfield 7-0 Wednesday evening at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center to take home the Class A state title for the fourth year in a row. This is the sixth t...
MINNEAPOLIS - The Blake School's reign over Class A state tennis continues.
The Bears topped Litchfield 7-0 Wednesday evening at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center to take home the Class A state title for the fourth year in a row. This is the sixth title in eight years for the Blake School and 12th in school history.
Litchfield finishes with a second-place trophy, one year after winning the consolation championship.
The Dragons battled with a pair of three-set matches at No. 1 doubles and No. 3 singles. Avery Stilwell led 4-3 in the second set of her match with Bella Suk at No. 3 singles with one set, a 6-1 victory, in hand, but Suk stormed back to win the last three games and force a tiebreaker set, which she won by the tune of 10-7.
Laney Huhner and Veida Behnke fought back with a strong 6-4 second set victory at No. 1 doubles after dropping the first set 6-3. Blake captains Emily Melin and Caroline Cameron didn't falter, though, winning the tiebreaking match 10-4.
"What we focus on all year is playing to our ability, playing to our level, and playing as well as we could," said Litchfield head coach Matt Draeger. "We always focused on how well we could play. This is the same message I gave to them today. 'It doesn't matter who is across the net from you, we want you to play to your ability level.' And for the most part, I thought we did."
This is the second year in a row the Bears effectively ended the Dragons' title hopes. Last year it came in the quarterfinals of the Class A tournament, another 7-0 score. Litchfield battled, though, with a pair of wins against Roseau and Virginia in the consolation bracket to take home that title.
Litchfield's top singles player, Shanna Kinny, ran into a buzzsaw in Arlina Shen, who is a two-time state runner-up, losing to a fellow Bear in back-to-back years. Shen enters Thursday's individual tournament as the top-ranked player in Class A.
"She's super consistent and never makes a mistake," Kinny said. "It was a workout for sure, but there's not much I could really do. (We entered the match) trying to hype each other up and stay positive. This is the No. 1 team in state, or they were last year, and we just wanted to stay positive. We played really well coming into this match and we've really improved as a team, just through this tournament even."
Litchfield looked dominant in its opening two matches of the tournament, winning 7-0 against Osakis in Tuesday's quarterfinal match and 6-1 against St. James Area Wednesday morning.
"They played great the entire tournament, even this last match," Draeger said. "It took Blake's best to beat us and that's what you hope for. They were pretty good today. We're pretty proud of our accomplishment, pretty proud to represent Litchfield and outstate Minnesota."
Litchfield ends the team season with just two losses but the season isn't entirely over. Litchfield has five players competing as individuals Thursday and Friday. Elise Bierbaum, traditionally the Dragons' No. 2 singles player, will be the lone Dragon in the singles tournament and she enters as the tournament's No. 5-seed. She'll face off with Courtney Boller of Pequot Lakes at 8 a.m Thursday.
On the doubles side, Kinny pairs up with Stilwell to become the tournament's No. 2 seed. They'll take on Shea Olson and Camryn Hoffarth of Osakis. Huhner and Behnke, meanwhile, will take on the tournament's four-seed in Audrey and Lydia Delich of Eveleth-Gilbert.
Last year, Audrey Delich paired with Madilyn Jankila and took second place while Kinny and Stilwell, then the tournament's three seed, took home third-place medals after knocking off top-ranked Abbie Nelson and Sophia Skallerud of the Blake School. Bierbaum took home the consolation championship last year.
Class A Championship
Blake 7, Litchfield 0
(1) Arlina Shen, B, def Shanna Kinny 6-0 6-0 (2) Sonia Baig, B, def Elise Bierbaum 6-2 6-1 (3) Bella Suk, B, def Avery Stilwell 1-6 6-4 10-7 (4) Allison Jay, B, def Alyssa Ross 6-1 6-0
(1) Emily Melin/Caroline Cameron, B, def Laney Huhner/Vaida Behnke 6-3 4-6 10-4 (2) Anna Secor/Natalie Anderson, B, def Taylar Smith/Neriah Lara 6-3 6-2 (3) Eesha Nagwani/Nana Vang, B, def Ryanna Steinhaus/Britney Prahl 6-0 6-1
Litchfield 6, St. James 1
(1) Shanna Kinny, L, def Renata Hernandez 6-1 4-6 10-3 (2) ELise Bierbaum, L, def Zoie Becker 6-3 6-1 (3) Avery Stilwell, L, def Miranda Tetzloff 6-0 6-0 (4) Alyssa Ross, L, def Mya hanson 6-1 6-0
(1) Laney Huhner/Vaida Behnke, L, def Hannah Loewen/Jaelyn Haler 6-0 6-1 (2) Lucca Kulseth/Ellie Becker, S, def Taylar Smith/Neriah Lara 6-4 4-6 10-3 (3) Ryanna Steinhaus/Britney Prahl, L, def Noel Westcott/Gabriela Trapero 6-2 6-4