Megan Hintz and Sara Wennerstrand have been here before, but not like this.
The two Brainerd Warriors tennis veterans helped the Brainerd team to the last two Class 2A state tournaments.
This year, however, Wennerstrand-Hintz, will compete in the 2A state doubles tournament.
They open with Rochester Century’s junior duo of Nicole Phillipps and Madison Kircher at 10 a.m. Thursday. Those two were the Section 1-2A runners-up to teammates Jessica Aney and Katherine Aney.
Both teams are off the sixth-ranked Century team.
“I think they’re a good team, but Sara and Megan haven’t reached how good they can be,” said Brainerd head coach Ellen Fussy. “Those two are still getting better. Megan and Sara will be able to compete with any team down there at this tournament.”
Hintz-Wennerstrand were seeded No. 1 in the North Subsection 8-2A bracket, which they cruised through on their way to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over St. Cloud Tech’s Leah Wurm-Sam Eisenreich. That tournament showed Fussy a lot about her doubles team.
“Throughout each match of the section tournament you could see their confidence grow stronger,” Fussy said. “They were doing things we’ve been working on all season, like closing to the net, serving and closing in and moving their feet. You could tell they really wanted it.
“If they can keep that mental attitude and sharpness about them they’ll compete with any team down there.”
The Brainerd team’s goal is to play on Friday. Win or lose in the opening-round match, a spot in Friday’s bracket would require the Brainerd pair to defeat either Morgan Marinovich-Mackenzi Marinovich of Edina or Rachel Schneider-Alexa Snow of Academy of Holy Angels in either the championship quarterfinals or the consolation quarterfinals.
Footwork will be an early indication for Fussy of which bracket it will be.
“If the girls are moving comfortably on the court and letting their instincts take over instead of thinking too much, then we’ll be able to tell that they’re in the right frame of mind,” Fussy said. “That’s how they played in the sections. We’ve talked about the things that matter and the things we can control. That means playing the ball and not the person.
“They’re going down to play the game they love. They’ve played in many matches and right now they’re playing their best. We just need to control the things we can control.”