Two of the most successful players in Brainerd Warriors program history ended their careers Thursday in the Class 2A state doubles tournament at the Baseline Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
Seniors Mikinzee Salo and Kayla Kraemer won their first match 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 over Alissa Heiring-Caitlin Eichten of Wayzata.
In the quarterfinals, Tacy Haws-Lay-Summer Brills of Mounds View ended the season and careers of Salo-Kraemer with a 6-0, 6-4 win.
“They played really well,” Warriors coach Ellen Fussy said. “They battled the first set with Wayzata. Then they figured it out, and they believed they belonged there. But it would have been nice to get the win.”
As singles players, Haws-Lay was ranked eighth, Brills ninth, in the 2A state coaches poll.
“The second match our girls were maybe were a little intimidated,” Fussy said. “They started the first set maybe back on their heels a little bit. In the second set they started making good shots, being aggressive, it was good to see.
“Even though they weren’t able to win it was a nice way to finish. They battled. They played some hard points. One of the games went to deuce six times.”
Salo and Kraemer played in three state team tournaments and in two state doubles tournaments.
“They’ve really been a pleasure to coach,” Fussy said. “They’re both such good leaders, on and off the court. They’re going to be hard to replace. They helped make Brainerd history. This is something our younger girls can aspire to be.
“It was a privilege to coach kids like this. They came in every day and worked hard. You don’t have to set goals for them. They set their own goals and worked toward those goals.”
Brainerd, which lost both of its matches in the dual meet tournament Tuesday, will graduate Salo, Briana Rademacher and Mackayla Headlee from its singles lineup and Kraemer and Nichole Gervenak from its doubles lineup.
“One of the good things is our younger gals coming up they know what kind of players these girls have been, how they helped the program,” Fussy said. “We realize younger girls are going to have to step up. I had a conversation about that with one of them on Tuesday, about what can she do in the offseason to get better.
“That’s really fun as a coach, that they’re still hungry when the season’s over. This will help keep our young girls going.”
Class 2A doubles
First round: Mikinzee Salo-Kayla Kraemer (Brd) def. Alissa Heiring-Caitlin Eichten (Wayzata) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
Quarterfinals: Tacy Haws-Lay-Summer Brills (Mounds View) def. Salo-Kraemer 6-0, 6-4
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.