FAIRMONT - Fairmont doubles player Jill Paris had a reason to celebrate her birthday 24 hours in advance on Thursday.
Cardinal head tennis coach Kathy Krezel tweaked her lineup again, moving Briana Gratz into the No. 2 doubles position with Paris, and the switch paid dividends at the Cardinal Courts.
Paris and Gratz produced one of Fairmont's seven straight-set victories to shut out the New Ulm Eagles, 7-0, during a South Central Conference dual meet in Fairmont.
DOUBLING UP — Fairmont first doubles player Abby Fitzgerald connects on a backhand return during South Central Conference dual-meet tennis action Thursday at Cardinal Courts in Fairmont. Photo by Leanna Becker
"It took them (Paris and Gratz) a couple of games in the first set to get used to one another before they started to click in the sixth and seventh games," said Krezel. "We're starting to get the right players in the right spots."
Krezel's work-in-progress lineup proved perfect in generating the dual meet's first four team points, with the Nos. 2 through 4 singles netters and the No. 3 doubles tandem reeling off 6-0, 6-0 victories.
Camilla Hermanrud coasted to back-to-back love set victories over Miriam Jakel at the fourth spot in the singles bracket to stake the Cardinals to a quick 1-0 team lead.
The hard-hitting Hermanrud hammered winner after winner without hesitation before Fairmont's No. 3 doubles team of Andrea Carstensen and Marina Rufli joined their teammate from Norway in the winner's circle.
Carstensen and Rufli, who hails from Switzerland, played in synchronization from their opening game and never looked back in posting a 6-0, 6-0 triumph over Mattea Sievert and Sicily Trullinger to extend the team ledger to 2-0.
Missy Viesselman and Allison Moeller then wrapped up the Cardinals' third and fourth team points with straight-set shutout victories. Viesselman coasted past Maya Sarkar at the No. 3 spot in the singles bracket, while Moeller chalked up her shutout over Jennifer Martins at second singles.
Sophie Shelgren and Abby Fitzgerald joined forces again at No. 1 doubles and battled back from a 5-4 first-set deficit to roll to Fairmont's fifth team tally.
Fitzgerald's seam-finding backhands and Shelgren's baseline coverage led to three consecutive game wins to close out a 7-5 opening-set win over Marissa Johnson and Hannah Jakel.
Fitzgerald and Shelgren registered a key service break at 4-1 in the second set to breeze to a 6-1 victory.
Paris and Gratz displayed their mettle by bouncing back from a 4-1 first-set deficit to inch within 4-3 and 5-4, respectively, of New Ulm's Gracelyn Sarkar and Emma Vranich.
Gratz and the cookie-wielding Paris reversed the scoring trend in their favor with a pivotal service break in Game 10 to fuel a 7-5 first-set triumph. The Fairmont duo then cruised to a 6-2 second-set win.
First singles netter Aubrey Green then outslugged the Eagles' Laura Albrecht in a good-to-the-last-shot back-and-forth battle to seal the Cardinals' shutout.
Albrecht grabbed leads of 4-3, 5-4 and 6-5 in the opening segment before Green fought back to capture a 15-minute Game 12 to force a tiebreaker. Green utilized a strong service game to post a 7-2 victory.
Albrecht answered by netting leads of 3-2, 4-3 and 5-4 in the second set only to watch Green come storming back. Green smacked a forehand winner to earn a 6-5 lead before cranking a backhand winner to the corner to cap a stellar 7-5 comeback victory.
Fairmont (7-3, 1-1 SCC) and New Ulm (1-8, 0-2) in the Mankato West Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday in Mankato.
Fairmont defeated New Ulm in junior varsity action, 5-3, Thursday in Fairmont.
Ellie Tonder and Shantel Quist teamed for an 8-0 victory for the Cardinals, while Micaela Gochanour and Lauren Carlson combined to net an 8-2 doubles win.
Leah Fortune and Anagha Komaragiri claimed a tiebreaker 9-8 (7-3) for Fairmont, while Kaitlyn Cihoski and Hayley Fogelson teamed for an 8-2 triumph. Madisyn Plumhoff and Chloe Graif capped the Cardinals' team points via an 8-4 doubles decision.
In junior varsity tennis action Tuesday, Maple River posted a 6-2 win over Fairmont at the Cardinal Courts.
Micaela Gochanour and Lauren Carlson combined court skills for an 8-5 doubles victory, while Leah Fortune and Kaitlyn Cihoski claimed an 8-3 decision.
St. James 6, Blue Earth Area 1 - The Saints swept the doubles bracket to help engineer a 6-1 South Central Conference dual-meet victory over the Bucs on Thursday at Schroeder Courts in Blue Earth.
Kaitlyn Olsen generated BEA's lone team point by outlasting Aubrey Eckstrom at fourth singles, 6-4, 6-2.
Michaela Nordby and Acacia Foss combined court skills at No. 1 doubles to pace a 6-4, 6-1 decision over the Bucs' Karli Olsen and Natali Fellows.
Michaela Nelson and Megan Lahti teamed at No. 2 doubles to claim a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Abby Nimz and Aeli Olson, while Saint teammates Morgan Rankin and Cassidy Chapek outslugged Paige Darrington and Autumn Drake in a three-set third-doubles clash, 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 6-3.
Aryn Eckstrom rolled to a 6-1, 6-0 Saints' victory over Karleigh Wolff at No. 1 singles, Lorena Hernandez netted a 6-0, 6-0 second-singles decision over Lindsey Prokop, while Julia Boeve chalked up a 6-4, 6-1 triumph over the Bucs' Annika Wilhelmi at third singles.
Blue Earth Area (6-3, 1-1 SCC) competes in the Mankato West Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday in Mankato.