St. Cloud Tech may have won the Central Lakes Conference title Tuesday but not without a duel from the Brainerd Warriors.
With Tech leading the meet 3-2 the Tigers' No. 3 doubles team of Meagan Larkin-Sam Eisenreich edged Brainerd's Courtney Tusler-Morgan Steffen 7-6 (7-5) and 7-6 (7-4).
As dusk began to envelop the courts, Tech's Lexi Portz outlasted Brainerd freshman Natalie Comeau 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
"I think they grew from this match," Warriors coach Ellen Fussy said of Tusler and Steffen. "Their game will come up a notch because they really worked hard.
"I just love that Natalie is not afraid. Some people are afraid to win or lose. She goes in there like, 'I'm going to win, I'm going to beat you,' and I love that. She's got a lot of raw talent. We have a lot of things to work with her on but she's not afraid to work, and that's the most important thing."
Tech 5, Warriors 2
The key: The Tigers won two matches in three sets and another with tiebreakers.
Conference: Brd 7-2, SCT 8-0
Overall: Brd 10-4, SCT 11-1
Next: Brainerd in North Subsection 8-2A team and individual tournament Saturday at Gold's Gym, Sartell.
The Warriors finished the regular season 7-2 in the Central Lakes Conference. A win Tuesday would have enabled them to tie Tech for the title. Brainerd is 10-4 overall entering Saturday's North Subsection 8-2A team and individual tournament at Gold's Gym in Sartell.
"We had a great season," Steffen said. "We're really close as a team, that helped a lot. Everyone was really good at staying until the end (of meets) and making sure that everyone had support."
Brainerd received wins Tuesday from its No. 1 and 2 doubles teams.
Mikinzee Salo-Kayla Kraemer rebounded from a 6-3 loss in the first set to score 6-0, 6-3 wins in the final two.
"They had a slow start," Fussy said. "The first set they weren't playing up to their ability, but they found it, I knew they would find it. I wasn't worried about those two at all.
"You have to enter each match ready to win, ready to roll people over because they have the ability to. They have to believe in themselves. I think after today they probably realize that a little bit more. When they step on the court they know they have the confidence to beat most opponents."
At No. 2, Nichole Gervenak-Megan Hintz scored Brainerd's other win, 6-2, 6-4.
"They took off early, and did a nice job," Fussy said. "They were really steady. They didn't play together (Monday) in Moorhead just to get a different look. I didn't really like what I saw there Monday so I put Hintz and Gervenak back together and I liked that chemistry."
Freshman Sara Wennerstrand, making her varsity singles debut, pushed Leah Wurm at No. 3 before falling 7-5, 7-5.
"Sara did us a huge favor by playing there," Fussy said. "We talked to her on the way home from Moorhead and said we might need to get a point out of you at singles. She didn't get a point but she worked hard.
"In fairness to her she hasn't played any singles this year, we depended on her in doubles. She has a lot of talent. We look forward to working with her in the postseason and the next three seasons."
St. Cloud Tech 5, Brainerd 2
No. 1: Rachael Zwiener (SCT) def. Briana Rademacher 6-2, 6-0
No. 2: Kristin Wurm (SCT) def. Mackayla Headlee 6-3, 6-3
No. 3: Leah Wurm (SCT) def. Sara Wennerstrand 7-5, 7-5
No. 4: Lexi Portz (SCT) def. Natalie Comeau 6-4, 5-7, 6-4
No. 1: Mikinzee Salo-Kayla Kraemer (Brd) def. Katie Haus-Mickey Moran 3-6, 6-0, 6-3
No. 2: Nichole Gervenak-Megan Hintz (Brd) def. Greta Zimmerman-Sam Bowman 6-2, 6-4
No. 3: Meagan Larkin-Sam Eisenreich (SCT) def. Courtney Tusler-Morgan Steffen 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4)
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