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Girls Tennis: Litchfield delighted with second place

Dragons fall to Breck in the Class A final, but equl their best state finish

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Girls Tennis

MINNEAPOLIS — The Litchfield girls tennis team came into the season with a stretch of four straight section championships, but also with the loss of six seniors.

In tennis, where the lineup includes 10 players, that’s a lot of seniors.

The season ended, however, as well as any in school history.

The Dragons bring home a second-place trophy from the state Class A team tournament Wednesday at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center.

Litchfield lost to Breck 7-0 in the final after beating Providence Academy 6-1 in the semifinals.

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“It’s an amazing feat,” Draeger said. “It’s real hard to put into words.
“The amount of improvement our kids have made this year is incredible.

“To come back with pretty much a whole new lineup and do this is incredible.”

On Tuesday, Litch edged Pine City 4-3 in perhaps the closest, toughest victory of the season. Though Draeger points out there were a lot of close, tough victories this year.

“It (the Pine City match) was absolute stress,” Draeger said. “It was two hours of highly intense, stressful tennis.”

All three doubles matches went three sets in that one, with Litchfield winning two. The winning point was by fourth singles player Isla Dille, a seventh-grader. Litchfield also has a ninth-grader, Karlee Prahl in the lineup.

“Again, that (Pine City win) was a credit to our kids,” Draeger said. “We’ve handled these situations better than I could ever have imagined.”

Providence Academy produced a more comfortable final score, but Draeger said that was close and hard-fought, too.

Kylie Michels won in three sets at No. 2 singles, beating Gabriella Noren 1-6, 6-1, 6-2. At No. 3 singles, Karlee Prahl beat Koralyn Horstman 7-5, 4-6, 10-5.

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Then came the Breck match. Breck won its first state championship since 2013 and its third in school history. The Mustangs also won state in 1996. Breck advanced by beating Fairmont 7-0 in its semifinal.

Against Litchfield, the Mustangs won in straight sets except at No. 2 doubles. There, the Dragons’ Taylor Draeger and Olivia Olson fell to Emily Lin and Amelia Bras 2-6, 6-0, 14-12.

It’s the second time Litchfield has finished second. The Dragons were second in 2018, losing to Blake in the final. Blake is now in Class AA. Litchfield finished third in 2019 and won the consolation championship in 2017.

Draeger credits a supportive community and hard-working, talented athletes.

“We have a real good community that supports tennis,” Draeger said.

He said that former players came in to play the Dragons in order to get them ready for state.

“We have the kind of girls that people like to be around,” Draeger said. “It’s a very good culture.”

In the third-place match, Providence Academy defeated Fairmont 4-3. In the fifth-place match, Rochester Lourdes beat Pine City 5-2. Lourdes beat Morris/Chokio-Alberta 6-1 and Pine City beat Crookston 6-1 in the consolation semifinals.

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The state Class A individual tournament gets underway at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center.

In singles, Litchfield’s Ryanna Steinhaus plays Wadena-Deer Creek’s Madison Packer in the first round and Montevideo’s Emily Brace faces Lydia Delich of Eveleth-Gilbert Area.

In doubles, the Benson/Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg duo of Hannah Helms and Elise Duncan face Belle Plaine’s Courtney Eppen and Josie Schmidt. New London-Spicer’s Izzy Schmiesing and Delaney Hanson play Ellie Pirtle and Petra Lyon of Breck. And, Litchfield’s Kylie Michels and Britney Prahl play Katelyn Torrel and Anna Beaudette of Eveleth-Gilbert Area. Play concludes with the championship rounds on Friday.

Class A final
Breck 7, Litchfield 0

Singles
(1) Ellie Pirtle, B, def. Ryanna Steinhaus 6-2, 6-1 … (2) Aditi Nadkami, B, def. Kylie Michels 6-4, 6-3 … (3) Ava Warford, B, def. Karlee Prahl 6-3, 6-0 … (4) Margot Gagerman, B, Isla Dille 6-2, 6-2
Doubles
(1) Petra Lyon / Witt Mehbod, B, def. Britney Prahl / Lauren Erickson 6-2, 6-1… (2) Emily Lin / Amelia Bras, B, def. Taylor Draeger / Olivia Olson 2-6, 6-0, 14-12… (3) Ava Jeffe / Christiana Radichel, B, def. Kaitlyn Palmer / Sophie Stilwell 6-2, 6-3.

Class A semifinal
Litchfield 6,
Providence Academy 1

Singles
(1) Ryanna Steinhaus, L, def. Annika Harberts Ott 6-3, 6-4… (2) Kylie Michels, L, def. Gabriella Noren 1-6, 6-1, 6-2… (3) Karlee Prahl, L, def. Koralyn Horstman 7-5, 4-6, 10-5… (4) Isla Dille, L, def. Delaney Flanigan 6-1, 6-2.
Doubles
(1) Britney Prahl/Lauren Erickson, L, def. Emma Speier/Elizabeth Langhus 6-3, 6-3 … (2) Olivia Eck/Katelyn Clements, PA, def. Taylor Draeger/Olivia Olson 6-4, 6-2 … (3) Kaitlyn Palmer/Sophie Stilwell, L, def. Ella Flynn/Marie Heyda 6-0, 6-1

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