FAIRMONT - A smile finally appeared on first-year Fairmont girls tennis mentor Kathy Krezel's face when the Cardinals' third doubles tandem of Briana Gratz and Andrea Carstensen delivered the meet-winning team point on Thursday.
Gratz and Carstensen's three-set triumph snapped the Cardinals' 3-all tie with the No. 5-seeded Montevideo Thunderhawks and propelled the No. 4 seed into the Section 3A team semifinals for a second consecutive season.
Fairmont (10-5) advances to face Class A, No. 4-ranked and No. 1-seeded St. James (20-2) at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Swanson Tennis Center on the Gustavus Adolphus College campus in St. Peter. St. James reached the next round via a 7-0 quarterfinal shutout victory over No. 8-seeded Martin County West.
TWO-HANDED BACKHAND — Fairmont third singles player Allison Moeller cranks a two-handed backhand return for a winner during Section 3A team quarterfinal tennis action Thursday at Cardinal Courts in Fairmont. Photo by Charlie Sorrells
Montevideo ended its season with a 13-8 record.
"I was nervous all day just thinking about this meet," said Krezel. "The girls worked hard today and did a great job of staying in every match to earn the win."
In fact, the Cardinals captured team points 3 and 4 by outdueling their Thunderhawk counterparts in a pair of hard-hitting three-set clashes.
With the sectional quarterfinal knotted at 2-all on the heels of straight-set singles victories by Fairmont's Missy Viesselman and Allison Moeller, No. 1 singles netter Aubrey Green produced a pivotal team point for the hometown Cardinals.
The smooth-hitting Green recorded a key service break in Game 8 of her opening set against Catherine Haugen to garner a 6-3 decision, but Haugen would counter in the second set.
Haugen displayed her mettle by reeling off four consecutive game wins to fuel a 6-1 victory to force a third set.
Green and Haugen exchanged breaks at 2-1 and 3-2, respectively, before Green generated the momentum-shifting break in Game 7 to move the scoretree to 4-3 in her favor. Green locked up the vital team tally by claiming the next two games for a 6-3 victory.
After Montevideo senior Sierra Frazier outslugged Camilla Hermanrud in a foray of furious forehand winners, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, at No. 2 singles to even the meet at 3-all, Gratz and Carstensen held a 3-2 lead over Paige Jorgenson and Jessa Kack during the third set of their No. 3 doubles contest.
With all eyes watching the decisive match, the two doubles combinations traded service breaks to 4-3 before holding serve to 5-4.
After Kack drilled a backhand pass down the alley to cap a Game 10 victory for the equalizer, Carstensen served up a love shutout in Game 11 to inch ahead at 6-5.
Jorgenson and Kack battled back, however, to create a tiebreaker at 6-all. Gratz served an ace to put Fairmont's duo in the driver's set in the extra session before Carstensen delivered a key forehand saving winner. Gratz then served out the 7-2 win in the tiebreaker as she and Carstensen closed out a hard-fought 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (7-2) decision to seal the team triumph.
Viesselman posted the Cardinals' initial team point by defeating Natasha Smith at No. 4 singles, 6-1, 6-2. Moeller then coasted to Fairmont's second team tally by dealing a 6-0, 6-3 loss to Kailey Maroney at the No. 3 spot in the singles bracket.
Lyndsey Moe and Rose Reinert combined at first doubles to net a 6-0, 6-4 victory over the Cardinals' Abby Fitzgerald and Sophie Shelgren, while the Thunderhawks' Froya Olson and Morgan Reidinger claimed the visitors' second team point via a 6-0, 6-2 win over Jill Paris and Marina Rufli at second doubles.
Section 3A Quarterfinal
Fairmont 4, Montevideo 3
Singles: Aubrey Green (F) d. Catherine Haugen, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Sierra Frazier (M) d. Camilla Hermanrud, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. Allison Moeller (F) d. Kailey Maroney, 6-0, 6-3. Missy Viesselman (F) d. Natasha Smith, 6-1, 6-2.
Doubles: Lyndsey Moe-Rose Reinert (M) d. Abby Fitzgerald-Sophie Shelgren, 6-0, 6-4. Froya Olson-Morgan Reidinger (M) d. Jill Paris-Marina Rufli, 6-0, 6-2. Briana Gratz-Andrea Carstensen (F) d. Paige Jorgenson-Jessa Kack, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (7-2).
St. James 7, Martin County West 0 - The Saints shut out the Mavericks 7-0 in a Section 3A team quarterfinal on Thursday in St. James.
St. James (20-2) advances to face No. 4-seeded Fairmont (10-5) at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Swanson Tennis Center in St. Peter.
Martin County West ended its season with a 4-10 record.
Aryn Ekstrom and Lorena Hernandez duplicated scores at the first and second singles position, with Ekstrom beating Tori Russenberger 6-1, 6-0 at the No. 1 spot while Hernandez downed Logan Weber 6-1, 6-0 in the No. 2 spot.
Julia Boeve shut out Megan Suter 6-0, 6-0 at third singles, while Aubrey Ekstrom blanked Ily Schlenk 6-0, 6-0 for the singles sweep at the fourth spot.
Michaela Nordby and Acacia Foss teamed up at first doubles to defeat Shawna Dressen and Emily Lawerence 6-1, 6-2.
Megan Lahti and Michaela Nelson beat KaLeigh Russenberger and Jennifer Hagen 7-5, 6-1 at the second doubles position.
Despite Kelci Russenberger and Alisa Russenberger taking a set from the Saints' Morgan Rankin and Hannah Christensen, the Mavericks lost a 4-6, 6-4, 4-10 decision.
Section 2A Team Meet
Blue Earth Area 6, Belle Plaine 1 - The No. 2-seeded Bucs swept the singles bracket to end the No. 7-seeded Tigers' season in the Section 2A quarterfinals on Thursday at Schroeder Courts in Blue Earth.
Blue Earth Area (11-5) travels to play either No. 3-seeded Jordan or No. 6-seeded Sibley East in the sectional team semifinals at the Swanson Tennis Center in St. Peter at 9 a.m. Monday. Sibley East travels to Jordan for their sectional quarterfinal at 10 a.m. today.
The Bucs' Karleigh Wolff defeated Ashley Morrison 6-4, 6-3 at the first singles position, while Lindsey Prokop handed her second singles opponent, Lindsay Vennie, a 6-1, 6-3 loss.
Annika Wilhelmi escaped with a 7-6 (7-4) first-set victory over Ireland Lambrecht before surging back for a 6-1 second-set win at third singles.
Kaitlyn Olsen survived a one-set deficit and went on to win the next two to take the three-set match victory over Kate Savage, 1-6, 6-0, 6-1.
Aeli Olson and Paige Darrington also dropped their first set, 1-6, to Sophie Brazil and Jamie Read, but came back to win 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 to take the second doubles win.
Beka Krussow and Kali Viland combined to beat Meghan Gavin and Kaisa Hallgren 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 7-5 to round out the Bucs' victories.
The Tigers' Allison Stolee and Jane Schneider captured their team's lone point, winning at first doubles, 6-4, 6-4, over Karli Olsen and Natali Fellows.