BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth Area's Annika Wilhelmi won six straight games during the third set of her third singles match to defeat Fairmont's Jill Paris to clinch the Bucs' 4-3 victory in a South Central Conference dual tennis meet on Thursday at Schroeder Courts in Blue Earth.
Aeli Olson and Paige Darrington snatched the first match win for the Bucs, downing Marina Rufli and Shantel Quist 6-4, 6-0 at second doubles.
The Bucs' then took a quick 3-0 lead with victories at first doubles and fourth singles.
SINGLES BATTLE — Fairmont singles player Jill Paris steps into a backhand return from the baseline during a South Central Conference dual tennis meet Thursday at Schroeder Courts in Fairmont. Photo by Leanna Becker
Blue Earth Area's Kaitlyn Olsen and Fairmont's Missy Viesselman battled through the first set, trading games back-and-forth before Kaitlyn Olsen won 6-4.
Kaitlyn Olsen then sealed the No. 4 singles win with a 6-2 second-set victory.
Karli Olsen and Natali Fellows followed right behind with their first doubles win. After a quick 6-2 win in the first set over Abby Fitzgerald and Sophie Shelgren, the Cardinals fought their way back into the second set.
Fitzgerald and Shelgren sent volleys between the Bucs' partners, and were able to work themselves back into the match. Karli Olsen and Fellows added to the team score with a 7-5 second-set decision to earn the No. 1 doubles win.
"Today was a lot of fun to watch. There were a lot of close matches, which we expected but made it fun to watch," said Blue Earth Area head coach Terry Barnes.
Fairmont's Allison Moeller took some of the momentum back for the Cardinals with a 6-2, 6-2 second singles win over Lindsey Prokop.
"Allison has been playing well for us all year," said Fairmont head coach Kathy Krezel. "It was fun to see her take the lead for us and get that first win today."
The Cardinals' Camilla Hermanrud trailed 4-1 in the opening set of her first singles match against Karleigh Wolff. At that point, Hermanrud switched gears and came back to force a tiebreaker at 6-6.
The tiebreaker was tied at 2-2 when Wolff went down briefly with a rolled ankle, but play continued and Hermanrud took the first set, 7-6 (7-4).
Wolff tried to control the second set, forcing Hermanrud to play short shots and beating her down the sideline. Hermanrud fought off the strategy and was able to break Wolff in the final game to capture the second set 6-3.
With the Bucs leading 3-2 in the team score after Wilhelmi and Paris had split sets at No. 3 singles, 6-1, 4-6, Blue Earth Area needed just one more match to clinch the overall win.
Paris, who won the second set, took a quick 3-0 lead in the third set.
Wilhelmi fought back and won six straight games to take the 6-3 third-set win to give the Bucs the team victory.
"We are a young team. We keep getting better, but we've faced a little bit of adversity and we were able to come back today," said Barnes.
The Cardinals' Briana Gratz and Andrea Carstensen won the first set of their third doubles against Beka Krussow and Adrien Wittlieff 7-5.
Gratz and Carstensen then took a 2-1 lead in the second set only to see Krussow and Wittlieff turn around and take a 5-3 lead.
Carstensen and Gratz worked Krussow and Wittlieff side-to-side and generated volley opportunities, helping them to win four games en route to winning the second set, 7-5.
Blue Earth Area (9-3, 3-1 SCC) travels to Maple River for a 10 a.m. dual meet on Saturday.
Fairmont (8-5) travels to Luverne for a 4:30 p.m. nonconference match next Thursday.
Blue Earth Area 4,
Singles: Camilla Hermanrud (F) d. Karleigh Wolff, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3. Allison Moeller (F) d. Lindsey Prokop, 6-2, 6-2. Annika Wilhelmi (BEA) d. Jill Paris, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Kaitlyn Olsen (BEA) d. Missy Viesselman, 6-4, 6-2.
Doubles: Karli Olsen-Natali Fellows (BEA) d. Abby Fitzgerald-Sophie Shelgren, 6-2, 7-5. Aeli Olson-Paige Darrington (BEA) d. Marina Rufli-Shantel Quist, 6-4, 6-0. Briana Gratz-Andrea Carstensen (F) d. Beka Krussow-Adrien Wittlieff, 7-5, 7-5.