After a one-year hiatus, the Brainerd Smashes will return to the University of Minnesota Baseline Center later this month.
That's because the team made of Brainerd Warriors varsity tennis players dominated the field to win the United States Tennis Association Northern Junior Team Area Championship Monday and Tuesday at Brainerd High School and Forestview Middle School.
The team of Trent Anderson, Gunner Askegaard, Jordan Shiltz, Cole Sundquist, Mackayla Headlee, Kayla Kraemer, Mikinzee Salo and Courtney Tusler accumulated 232 points to advance to the USTA Northern Section tournament in Minneapolis July 27-28.
"This feels great," said the Smashes Jordan Shiltz, who along with Kayla Kraemer played mixed doubles. "We didn't make it last year so to advance is awesome. We played well.
"Now we just have to take it as far as we can. I'm happy we got down there, but now we have to keep driving."
Courtney Tusler (left) and Mackayla Headlee helped the Brainerd Smashes win the Northern Section of the United States Tennis Association Junior Team Tennis Championship, which was played Monday and Tuesday in Brainerd.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
Finishing second and also advancing are the Staples Cardinals made of players from the Staples-Motley Cardinals and Park Rapids Panthers high school teams.
The Cardinals rebounded from a 30-14 defeat to the Smashes to start Tuesday's rounds and finished with 212 points.
Hibbing finished third, St. Cloud Set Points were fourth and the Brainerd Aces were fifth with 154 points. The Brainerd Slices captured the team spirit award and finished ninth with 122 points. Team member Megan Hintz was awarded the girls' sportsmanship award.
The Smashes cruised through the eight matches in two days with little trouble.
"It wasn't too bad," said Kraemer. "It gets tiring with the sun and the long waits between matches. That's what gets you. It gets you out of your rhythm."
The Smashes began the day in third place, but rattled off wins of 30-7 over the Slices, 30-14 over Staples, 30-13 over Duluth and 30-12 over the St. Cloud Cubs to overtake Staples and Hibbing. A key victory in Brainerd's win over Staples came at mixed doubles.
"We were both pretty nervous going into it," said Shiltz. "We played really well. That was probably one of our best matches that we've played together."
Said Kraemer: "We just got them a little frustrated near the end there and got them 6-3."
Jordan McCall of the St. Cloud Set Points won the boys' sportsmanship award.
Team standings: 1-Brainerd Smashes 232, 2-Staples 212, 3-Hibbing Blackjackets 174, 4-St. Cloud Set Points 159, 5-Brainerd Aces 154, 6-Grand Rapids Orange150, 7-St. Cloud Cubs 144, 8-Duluth Black 127, 9-Brainerd Slices 122.
Brainerd Smashes: def. Brainerd Aces 28-12; def. Brainerd Slices 30-7; def. Grand Rapids 30-13; def. Hibbing 26-13; def. St. Cloud Set Points 28-10; def. Staples 30-14; def. Duluth 30-13; def. St. Cloud Cubs 30-12
Brainerd Aces: def. Slices 24-16; fell to Smashes 28-12; fell to Hibbing 26-17; def. Cubs 25-14; fell to Set Points 23-21; fell to Staples 29-10; def. Duluth 24-21; def. Grand Rapids 21-19
Brainerd Slices: fell to Aces 24-16; fell to Smashes 30-7; fell to Duluth 25-16; fell to Grand Rapids 25-16; fell to Hibbing 30-16; fell to Cubs 22-20; def. Set Points 25-20; fell to Staples 28-10
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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