ST. PETER - Blue Earth Area's freshman tennis tandem of Natali Fellows and Karli Olsen nearly completed the Section 2A doubles bracket's gauntlet on Thursday in St. Peter.
The unseeded and unheralded Bucs' dynamic duo posted victories in both the play-in round and first complete round before falling in a three-set individual quarterfinal marathon match inside the Swanson Tennis Center.
"Natali and Karli battled right to the end, but simply ran out of gas after having played two matches just to get to the quarterfinals," said Blue Earth Area mentor Terry Barnes. "We graduate Aeli (Olson), but the rest of our team will be back next season, so our program should be in good shape down the road."
CHANGE-OVER — Blue Earth Area doubles player Natali Fellows (right) flips the scorecards as teammate Karli Olsen watches during Section 2A individual tennis playoff action Thursday at the Swanson Tennis Center in St. Peter. Fellows and Olsen went on to reach the sectional quarterfinals by winning two playoff matches. Photo by Charlie Sorrells
Fellows, a right-hander, and Karli Olsen, a lefty, proved perfect complements to one another in opening the 11-hour sectional tournament session by disposing of Jordan's Justine Lloyd and Victoria Read, 7-5, 6-1, to emerge from the play-in mini-bracket.
Fellows and Karli Olsen then upended No. 4-seeded Morgan Schwarz and Maggie Nelson of St. Peter during the first complete doubles round, 7-5, 6-2, to reach the quarterfinals.
"It's a long ways from the pigtail matches to the semifinals, especially in one day," said Barnes.
Trailing No. 5-seeded Monica Bye and Kia Legred of United South Central, 2-1, during their quarterfinal clash, Karli Olsen and Fellows recorded two pivotal service breaks at 3-2 and 5-2 to fuel a 6-2 opening-set victory.
Bye and Legred, however, regrouped to register a key service break during a five-deuce Game 6 of the second set to trigger a 6-3 victory to force a third and decisive segment.
Unfortunately for the Blue Earth Area freshmen, Bye and Legred broke early and often to generate a 6-0 third-set decision to advance to Day 2 of the Section 2A Individual Meet.
Bye and Legred will face No. 1-seeded Alicia Knoll and Abbe Hoehn of Waseca in one doubles semifinal showdown at 2 p.m. Monday back at the Swanson Tennis Center in St. Peter.
Knoll and Abbe Hoehn waited through 20 matches before blanking Maple River's Samantha Beto and Rachael Rigdon in the first complete round, 6-0, 6-0. The hard-hitting Waseca tandem then eliminated Belle Plaine's Allison Stolee and Jane Schneider in the quarterfinals, 7-5, 6-1.
In Monday's other sectional doubles semifinal, defending 2A champions and No. 2-seeded Drew DeCorsey and Alex Hancock of Jordan will square off against No. 3-seeded Abby Collins and Shanly Nelson of Waseca.
DeCorsey and Hancock eliminated Blue Earth Area's Karleigh Wolff and Lindsey Prokop in the quarterfinals, 6-0, 6-2. Wolff and Prokop gained the quarters by serving a 6-1, 6-3 full first-round loss to USC's Ali Wood and Linsey Thisius.
Collins and Nelson qualified for Day 2 of the postseason individual tournament by coasting to a 6-1, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Tri-City United's Courtney Hentges and Beth Steinborn.
Identical to the sectional doubles bracket, the No. 1, 2, 3 and 5 seeds reached the singles semifinals.
No. 1-seeded Claire Christian of USC and No. 2-seeded Calleigh Carlson of St. Peter each survived grueling first-round battles before rolling to quarterfinal victories.
Christian fended off TCU's Kori Lowe, 6-3, 7-6 (10-8), before dropping only one game in outslugging promising eighth-grade phenom Rachel Huber of St. Peter in the quarters, 6-1, 6-0.
Christian will face No. 5-seeded Maddie Muotka of Waseca in Monday's 2 p.m. singles semifinal. Muotka rolled to a 6-0, 6-1 first-round decision over Jordan's Rachel Menke before ousting No. 4-seeded Carlie Brandt - a promising freshman from Le Sueur-Henderson - in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-0.
Brandt gained the quarterfinals by downing Blue Earth Area sophomore Kaitlyn Olsen, 6-0, 6-2. Olsen gained the first complete round by defeating Sibley East's Lindsay Fasching in a play-in match, 6-2, 4-6, (10-1).
Meanwhile, Carlson will face No. 3-seeded Morgan Setterman of Sibley East in Monday's other sectional singles semifinal. Setterman downed Blue Earth Area freshman Anikka Wilhelmi in the quarterfinals, 6-0, 6-1. Wilhelmi qualified for the quarters by outhitting Belle Plaine's Ashley Morrison in the first complete round, 6-2, 6-3.
Carlson survived USC's Julia Stenzel in a three-set first-round slugfest, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, before coasting to a 6-2, 6-1 quarterfinal decision over LSH's Sara Mootz.