For a program that hasn't had a winning record for five years the 2004 season may be remembered as the year when it began to come back.
The Brainerd Warriors tennis team wrapped up its regular season Thursday with a 6-1 Central Lakes Conference loss to the Alexandria Cardinals.
Brainerd is 4-11 entering Wednesday's North Subsection 8, Class 2A team tournament. Its victory total represents two more wins than last fall.
The Warriors beat Little Falls, twice, Park Center and Sartell in the regular season.
"The only thing that was a little disappointing was not being able to take Rocori the second time around," Warriors coach Marnie Whalen said. "We battled well. That was the day we had a different lineup that we knew would be a little weaker.
Alexandria 6, Warriors 1
Brainerd highlight: Fanny Hagmeier was the Warriors only winner.
Next meet No. 7 Brainerd vs. No. 2 Alexandria 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in North Subsection 8, Class 2A team tournament at Grand Forks, N.D.
"Five wins would have been within our reach. We did OK considering."
Senior captain Jessica Lofrano considered it a difficult year as far as wins and losses.
"But we didn't have many returning people," Lofrano said. "Our freshmen really stepped it up this year. Kayla Huether played really good. (Foreign student) Fanny Hagmeier is playing awesome."
Hagmeier furnished Brainerd's only victory Thursday, 7-6 (8-6), 6-0 at No. 1 singles.
Whalen altered the lineup Thursday, taking Huether and Owens from singles positions and pairing them at No. 1 doubles.
They wound up losing 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in a match that featured several closely contested rallies and numerous precision shots. They will play doubles in the individual subsection tournament.
"That's why we played them there (Thursday)," Whalen said. "I thought this would be a neat chance for the two of them. They played doubles together only once during the season."
Lofrano will team with Carolyn Despot for the subsection tournaments.
"We've never played before this year," Lofrano said. "We've been playing together well, communicating. Things are going really good for us. We've got a lot of bugs to work out but I think we've come far this year."
The Warriors are seeded seventh in the subsection team tournament. They have earned a rematch against No. 2 Alexandria (13-7) in the quarterfinals at Grand Forks, N.D.
Whalen doesn't view it as a disadvantage to play the same opponent twice in six days.
"We've only seen them once during the season," Whalen said of Alexandria. "It isn't like it's the third time around.
"(Thursday) sort of sets the stage. They're a tough team. We're going to use a different lineup against them. We'll put Kayla and Megan back in singles. They're a strong team. I don't know if that's going to make a huge difference but it gives us another slant on a challenge."
Alexandria 6, Brainerd 1
No. 1 -- Fanny Hagmeier (B) def. Tiffany Eberly 7-6 (8-6), 6-0; No. 2 -- Laurie Verant (A) def. Megan Jacobson 6-1, 6-1; No. 3 -- Lisa Marthala (A) def. Natalie Reponen 6-0, 6-0; No. 4 -- Liz Bjerhaas (A) def. Catherine Luckemeyer 6-0, 6-3
No. 1 -- Nicole Jossart-Whitney Eisel (A) def. Kayla Huether-Megan Owens 6-3, 2-6, 6-2; No. 2 -- Laura Stern-Aneisa Hagen (A) def. Carolyn Despot-Jessica Lofrano 6-1, 6-3; No. 3 -- Katie Carlson-Ann Bergstrand (A) def. Abby Ahlberg-Erica Mortensen 6-0, 6-4
Conference -- A 5-1, B 2-4. Overall -- A 13-7, B 4-11.
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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