Bemidji girls tennis completed a memorable 2020 fall season with its first Section title in 12 years, downing St. Cloud Tech 5-2 in the Section 8AA team championship on a frigid Thursday afternoon at Brainerd High School.
“I’m very happy that this great group of student-athletes was able to create such a great memory,” said second-year head coach Kyle Fodness in an email afterward. “The team coming home as section champions is a great reward for them, but they all agreed that their favorite part of their experience has been the time spent with the team, and that one of the most important elements of their success in the playoffs has been their positivity and support for each other.”
The win completes a 13-1 fall season for the Lumberjacks, who went 9-1 against Central Lakes Conference opposition before navigating the 8AA North subsection as the #2 seed on their way to avenging their lone loss to Brainerd in the subsection final. That set the stage for their championship-winning performance against 8AA’s perennial girls tennis power.
The clinching team point was secured by an 8th grade duo who made their mark throughout the season for the varsity team. Margie Anderson and Mollie Rupp defeated Tech’s Isabella Anderson and Abby Brown 6-3, 6-3 in third doubles to pick up the point necessary for the Lumberjacks to be crowned champions.
Tech got on the board first courtesy of their talented number one singles player Ashley Tarrolly, who defeated Bemidji’s Savannah Haugen for the second time this season in a 6-1, 6-1 decision. Both of Haugen’s losses in her 12-2 season at number one singles were to Tarrolly.
The Lumberjacks’ top doubles tandem made their final match for Bemidji a winning one. Seniors Lexi Leitner and Nettie Kimble reunited for a convincing 6-1, 6-2 win against Leah Donnelly and Kylie Starren to put Bemidji on the board in the match.
“Nettie was strong all over the court today, and Lexi added strong baseline play along with her usual athletic presence at the net,” Fodness remarked. “They both capped great careers with an important win to get momentum going for the rest of the team.”
Chloe Hasbargen and Paige Anderson followed soon after at second doubles with a 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Olivia Bauerly and Anna Miller.
Bemidji’s middle two singles players secured straight-set wins to add on more points, with Emily Dondelinger topping Paige Tarrolly 6-4, 6-2 at second singles. Soon after Anderson and Rupp secured the team title, Tatum Offerdahl added another point at third singles by winning 7-6 (7-1), 6-2 over Tech’s Ella Marohl.
Brook Wilfong got past Bemidji’s Darby Neis 6-1, 5-7 (10-3) to add one final point for St. Cloud Tech in the runner-up effort.
With COVID-19 cancelling fall sports state tournaments, the Lumberjacks’ season officially concludes with the Section championship–their fifth in team history and first since 2008 after finishing as runners-up last season.