SARTELL — The patriarch of Beth Pederson’s family put it best when New London-Spicer’s Ava Hanson and Izzy Schmiesing played against each other in the Section 5A singles semifinals.

“My dad came to watch and said it best when he enthusiastically stated, ‘Well, this is awkward,’” said Pederson, the Wildcats’ head coach. “Prior to playing the match, in the van, I told the girls to look at each other and say, ‘I will win the next match,’ because that would get either player a chance at true second.”

Ultimately, Hanson beat Schmiesing 6-1, 6-2, putting her in the finals against Staples-Motley’s Lauren Rutten. With the top spot from the section on the line, Hanson cruised with a 6-2, 6-3 victory Monday at Sta-Fit in Sartell.

“Ava was dialed in from the start with two missions: go to state and get Izzy a chance to go to state,” Pederson said. “She was down 1-2 in the second set and had to adjust her game from short shots to the backhand to moving the ball with angles.

“Ava has been a force all season and closed the day being a force on the court, doing what she set out to do. Very proud of her.”

Schmiesing kept her season alive by winning the third-place match against Val Gall of Pierz, 6-2, 6-1, setting up a true second-place match against Rutten. It was a long battle between the two but Schmiesing got the win and the other state berth from 5A with a 7-5, 7-5 win.

“Izzy used different weapons ranging from lobs to ‘being a wall’ to playing defense to good serves to patience to getting to the net,” Pederson said. “Over the course of the day, Izzy used more weapons than I can count to win her matches. I have to say that Izzy truly has more weapons than any other player that I have coached.”

Along with competing with the NLS team on Oct. 22-23, Hanson and Schmiesing will also compete in the Class A state singles tournament on Oct. 24-25. All four days will take place at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.



Section 5A

Semifinals
Ava Hanson, NLS, def Izzy Schmiesing, NLS, 6-1 6-2; Lauren Rutten, Staples-Motley, def Val Gall, Pierz, 7-5 6-2
Finals
Hanson, NLS, def Rutten, S-M 6-2 6-3
Third Place
Schmiesing, NLS, def Gall, Pierz, 6-2 6-1
True Second
Schmiesing, NLS, def Rutten, S-M, 7-5 7-5



Section 2A

For the second straight year, the Litchfield girls’ tennis team will send a pair of doubles teams to the Class A state tournament after the conclusion of the Section 2A tournament Monday at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

The Dragons pairing of Elsie Bierbaum and Avery Stilwell became section champions. Bierbaum and Stilwell began the day by beating Annandale’s Faith Millner and Ann Roberts before facing off with teammates Vaida Behnke and Neriah Lara in the finals.

Prior to the championship match, Behnke and Lara picked up a 6-0, 6-3 win over Annandale’s Olivia Honsey and Faith Simon.

In the battle of Dragons vs. Dragons, Bierbaum and Stilwell clinched the 5A title with a 6-1, 6-3 victory.

Playing Millner and Roberts in a true second-place match, Behnke and Lara overcame a first-set loss and dominated the next two sets in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory.

Following the conclusion of Litchfield’s team tournament run on Oct. 22-23, Bierbaum/Stilwell and Behnke/Lara will play in the Class A state doubles tournament on Oct. 24-25. All four days will take place at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.



Semifinals
Elise Bierbaum/Avery Stilwell, Litchfield, def Faith Millner/Ann Roberts, Annandale, 6-0 6-1; Vaida Behnke/Neriah Lara, Litchfield, def Olivia Honsey/Faith Simon, Annandale, 6-0 6-3
Finals
Bierbaum/Stilwell, Litchfield, def Behnke/Lara, Litchfield, 6-1 6-3
True Second
Behnke/Lara, Litchfield, def Millner/Roberts, Annandale, 4-6 6-3 6-0