St. Cloud Tech put up a gallant fight but the Brainerd Warriors persevered for their third straight Section 8-2A championship Saturday night with a 4-3 win over the Tigers at Gold’s Gym in Sartell.
Brainerd blanked Monticello 7-0 in Saturday’s semifinals to advance to the finals.
“I’ve never been so proud of a group of girls,” Warriors coach Ellen Fussy said. “They’ve bonded together, they’re such a close-knit team. They really wanted it. We went out and talked before the Tech match. (Assistant coach Bruce) Thompson and I took them out for a little walk, and said, ‘Who wants it more? We know how bad Tech wants it. We need to be hungrier than Tech,’ and the girls did it.
“We were definitely the more-seasoned team. Tech has a young team. They will be contenders the next couple years, but we had a goal and got our goal. Our bigger goal is to go and be noticed at the state tournament. We’ve been down there and haven’t won a match.
“With veteran players, with as many matches as they have played, there’s no reason we can’t get a ‘W’ at state. I’ve got faith in them. We have two good weeks of practice yet and hopefully the weather will cooperate.”
The dual meet against Tech was tied 3-3 and Brainerd No. 1 singles player Mikinzee Salo stepped up and decided the outcome. The senior scored a 6-0, 6-3 win over Kristin Wurm.
“I felt like when we were tied 3-3, and Salo was the last match on, being No. 1 singles, and a 6-year varsity player, that she should really be in driver’s seat,” Fussy said. “She did a great job, closing out the match and getting the victory for us.
“Salo won the first set, and was winning the second 5-2. Then Wurm came back to 5-3. There were a lot of match points. We could have ended it and won it, but it would go back to deuce.”
The Warriors trailed 3-1 after losing at No. 2, 3 and 4 singles and getting a win at No. 3 doubles from Morgan and Caitlin Steffen.
Brainerd then received a No. 1 doubles win from Kayla Kraemer-Sara Wennerstrand and a No. 2 doubles win from Nichole Gervenak-Megan Hintz.
“Tech had a senior and ninth-grader (at No. 2 doubles),” Fussy said. “We thought if we could kind of rattle that senior we could win it. We won the first set in a tie breaker. That was kind of a pivotal match because we knew we could count on Salo. No. 1 doubles, I thought we were the better team.”
Brainerd will play the Section 3 champion in the Class 2A state quarterfinals at noon Oct. 25 at the Baseline Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
Brainerd 7 Monticello 0
No. 1: Mikinzee Salo (B) def. Alex Revenig 6-0, 6-3
No. 2: Briana Rademacher (B) def. Brooke Volpone 6-3, 6-2
No. 3: Natalie Comeau (B) def. Grace Sawatzke 6-3, 6-3
No. 4 Mackayla Headlee (B) def. Hannah Schwartz 6-1, 6-0
No. 1: Kayla Kraemer-Sara Wennerstrand (B) def. Letitia Jude-Morgan Sawatzke 6-1, 6-3
No. 2: Nichole Gervenak-Megan Hintz (B) def. Paige Kissinger-Kendra Stock 6-2, 6-3
No. 3: Morgan Steffen-Caitlin Steffen (B) def. Marissa Ferguson-Lora Bodin 6-3, 4-6, 6-0
Brainerd 4, St. Cloud Tech 3
No. 1: Mikinzee Salo (B) def. Kristin Wurm 6-0, 6-3
No. 2: Taylor Tarolly (SC) def. Briana Rademacher 6-2, 6-1
No. 3: Leah Wurm (SC) def. Natalie Comeau 7-5, 6-0
No. 4: Alexie Portz (SC) def. Mackayla Headlee 6-2, 6-4
No. 1: Kayla Kraemer-Sara Wennerstrand (B) def. Jill Kedrowski-Kaila Burroughs 6-2, 6-0
No. 2: Nichole Gervenak-Megan Hintz (B) def. Megan Larkin-Samantha Eisenreich 7-6 (7-4), 7-5
No. 3: Morgan Steffen-Caitlin Steffen (B) def. Sabrina Sturm-Kathryn Williams 6-3, 6-0
Overall: Brd 24-2. Next: Brainerd in Section 8-2A individual tournament at Gold’s Gym, Sartell, Friday and Saturday.