Wildcats scratch Cardinals tennis, 4-3

SMASHING SUCCESS — Fairmont’s Holly Petrowiak (left) hammers a smash near the net during a nonconference dual tennis meet against River Valley on Tuesday at the Cardinal Courts in Fairmont. Cardinals’ No. 3 doubles partner Lauren Davis (back right) watches the action. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

FAIRMONT — With No. 1 singles player Sydney Hainy absent from Fairmont’s tennis lineup due to illness on Tuesday, the Cardinals’ youth movement climbed the bracket’s ladder.

Eighth-grader Maggy Totzke and freshman Lauren Green reeled off the nonconference dual meet’s first two team tallies at Nos. 3 and 4 singles, respectively, for the hometown lineup, but the River Valley Wildcats eventually scratched out a 4-3 victory at the Cardinal Courts.

“We (coaching staff) figured this meet would be close to the very end,” said River Valley head coach Shane Laffen. “Our two teams match up pretty evenly on paper.”

Totzke, who moved from her usual No. 4 spot to No. 3, shut out Meghan Stevens in straight love sets to produce Fairmont’s initial team point before Green followed suit in less than 3 minutes. Green coasted to back-to-back 6-0 set wins over Liv Nelson at the fourth position in the singles bracket.

“Every one of our matches was very competitive today. We’re gradually improving with each (meet), and definitely closing the gap (in the final team score),” said Fairmont head coach Eric Johnson, whose lineup has battled to four consecutive 4-3 decisions during its last four duals, losing three narrowly while defeating New Ulm by one last Thursday.

River Valley’s No. 1 doubles tandem of Kelsie Domeier and Lauren Klein triggered the visitors’ turnaround on the scorecards by posting a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Brittany Bass and Bergen Senf.

The senior duo of Hanna Himmelman and Briana Schmidt then swung a 3-2 lead to the Wildcats by fending off a pair of up-and-coming Cardinal eighth-graders in the singles bracket.

Himmelman outslugged Claire Nemmers, who moved from No. 2 to the No. 1 spot due to Hainy’s absence, by a hard-fought 6-4, 6-2 decision, while Schmidt bested Briana Joseph by a 6-2, 6-1 score at the No. 2 position. Joseph, who moved from her usual No. 3 spot, made Schmidt work for her points and the straight-set win.

River Valley’s senior tandem of Courtney Sellner and Megan Himmelman delivered the meet-clinching point by outlasting Makena Rodriguez and Emily O’Connor at No. 2 doubles, 6-4, 6-0.

Fairmont’s Holly Petrowiak and Lauren Davis displayed their mettle by battling back from an opening-set tiebreaker loss — 7-6 (7-5) — to Kaydince Thoms and Brooklyn Moldan at third doubles. Petrowiak’s frontline overheads and Davis’ baseline coverage swung the second set in the Cardinals’ direction at 6-2.

Petrowiak and Davis then collected Fairmont’s final team point of the dual meet by outlasting Thoms and Moldan in a super tiebreaker in place of a full third set, 10-8.

“Lauren and Holly made good adjustments to the wind, especially during the second set, to fight their way back into their third doubles match,” said Johnson. “It was a nice effort on their part.”

Fairmont (3-11) plays host to St. Peter at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cardinal Courts, while River Valley (4-6) plays host to Waseca on Thursday in Sleepy Eye.

Varsity Results

River Valley 4, Fairmont 3

Singles: Hanna Himmelman (RV) def. Claire Nemmers, 6-4, 6-2. Briana Schmidt (RV) def. Briana Joseph, 6-2, 6-1. Maggy Totzke (F) def. Meghan Stevens, 6-0, 6-0. Lauren Green (F) def. Liv Nelson, 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles: Kelsie Domeier-Lauren Klein (RV) def. Brittany Bass-Bergen Senf, 6-2, 6-3. Courtney Sellner-Megan Himmelman (RV) def. Makena Rodriguez-Emily O’Connor, 6-4, 6-0. Holly Petrowiak-Lauren Davis (F) def. Kaydince Thoms-Brooklyn Moldan, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, (10-8).

Blue Earth Area 4, St. Peter 3 — Fourth singles netter Tea Armstrong captured a three-set slugfest, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, to help pace the Bucs’ 4-3 Big South Conference dual-meet victory over the Saints on Tuesday in St. Peter.

Armstrong downed St. Peter opponent Amelia Hildebrandt, while BEA teammate Arika Howard claimed the visitors’ other singles point with a hard-fought 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) win over Caitlin Salfer at No. 3 singles.

McKenna Dutton and Britt Howard combined court skills at No. 2 doubles to fend off Lizzy Orth and Lexie Blaschko, 6-4, 6-3, for the Bucs, while Sydney Blagg and Cali Beyer squeezed by the Saints’ Grace Werner and Ella Boomgaarden, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, at the third spot in the doubles bracket.

Josie Carlson and Lily Elofson produced St. Peter’s points in singles action. Carlson defeated Macie Stevermer in back-to-back 6-1 sets at the No. 1 spot, while Elofson posted a 6-4, 6-1 decision over Julia Hanson at the No. 2 position.

Alex Gault and Amelia Wernsing outbattled the Bucs’ Malarie Scholtes and Carissa Engesser in three sets at No. 1 doubles, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, to close out the Saints’ team tallies.

The Bucs competed in the dual meet without doubles player Maddie McCleary due to illness.

Blue Earth Area (12-2) plays host to Big South Conference opponent New Ulm at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Schroeder Courts in Blue Earth.