Sara Wennerstrand and Caitlin Steffen made it look easy — too easy.
Despite matching 6-0, 6-0 victories at the top two singles spots, both girls worked hard to improve for their next match. The strategy will hopefully pay off, but as for Tuesday, the duo did their part in the Brainerd Warriors’ 6-1 Central Lakes Conference win over the St. Cloud Apollo/Sauk Rapids/St. Cloud Cathedral Storming Eagles at Brainerd High School.
Wennerstrand angled her way toward her second straight 6-0, 6-0 win. The senior isn’t one to rest on her past success, though.
“I was working on coming to the net more,” said Wennerstrand. “She hit more shorter balls than a lot of my opponents so that was really fun to work on. And also, I really just wanted to move her around.
“I think I was able to do what I wanted to do. It’s hard to come to the net against some opponents and get the practice. You can do it, but there is more pressure. There wasn’t as much pressure today so it was good to work on it in this match.”
Wennerstrand, who advanced to last year’s state doubles tournament, has adapted her game to the smaller court of singles play. Having a solid serve, which she displayed Tuesday, doesn’t hurt.
“In the doubles game, you use a lot of angles,” said Wennerstrand. “I like to use those angles in singles as well and come to the net some, too. That helps me in singles.
“My game is feeling really good right now.”
Steffen’s No. 2 singles match was the quickest of the seven matches as she dispatched Megan Brennan.
“I was really working on the short balls that I could take advantage of,” said Steffen. “I was really picking my placement. So when I go up against the better players instead of just getting the ball back in court, I can place the ball and become more consistent with that shot.”
Steffen felt she was consistent with her shots and she didn’t let the wind affect her game. She also knew her match could have lasted a lot longer if she wasn’t aggressive.
“I knew that she was going to be kind of like a backboard player and get to all my shots so I tried to close or really put the ball away as fast as I could instead of rallying,” said Steffen. “During warm-ups, I could rally with her for a long time. So I wanted to change that. I think it worked well. I tried to close on the net more. She lobbed quite a bit, but I think the points didn’t last long.”
Nothing lasted longer than Hailey Hinrichs’ No. 4 singles match.
The junior smacked an ace serve to finish off her marathon match 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-1). It was one of three ace serves for Hinrich, with two coming in the last set tiebreaker.
All three doubles teams won in straight sets. About the biggest scare came at No. 2 doubles. After opening with a 6-2 first-set win, the team of Claire Gunsbury-Kristina Anderson fell behind 3-0. The two then rattled off six-straight wins for the 6-3 second set triumph.
Brainerd 6, SCASRC 1
No. 1: Sara Wennerstrand (Brd) def. Katie Ford 6-0, 6-0
No. 2: Caitlin Steffen (Brd) def. Megan Brennen 6-0, 6-0
No. 3: Erika Barthelemy (SCASRC) def. Payge Fitterer 6-2, 6-2
No. 4: Hailey Hinrichs (Brd) def. Beauty Flowers 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-1)
No. 1: Brooke Mimmack-Ashley Fitterer (Brd) def. Sarah Schmitz-Lauren Stang 6-0, 6-2
No. 2: Claire Gunsbury-Kristina Anderson (Brd) def. Natalie Otto-Ashley Gregerson 6-2, 6-3
No. 3: Kennedy Rusk-Hannah Moen (Brd) def. Claire Miller-Elise Miller 6-1, 6-2
Madi Exsted-Maura Halvorson
Sydney Stock-Karrina Myhre
Emily Schwaderer-Amanda Rhato