FAIRMONT - Fairmont's No. 3 singles netter Allison Moeller literally breathed a sigh of relief after earning the meet-winning point against rival Blue Earth Area on Thursday at the Cardinal Courts.
Moeller's straight-set victory clinched the fourth team point of the hometown Cardinal tennis lineup's eventual 5-2 South Central Conference dual-meet triumph over the Bucs.
Moeller removed the brace around her ribs and unraveled the elastic bandage wrapped around her mid-section to literally give herself some breathing room after exiting Court 3 with back-to-back 6-2 set wins in hand.
BACK-N-FORTH — Blue Earth Area tennis player Karleigh Wolff nears the net to track down a drop shot during South Central Conference dual-meet action Thursday at the Cardinal Courts in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"I somehow got a rib out of place when I played (Blue Earth Area's) Karleigh (Wolff) in the first singles championship match during last Saturday's Mankato West Invitational, and had to injury default," said Moeller. "It (rib injury) was so painful that I wasn't in the lineup against Waseca on Tuesday, but I'm glad to be back today."
And so was Fairmont head coach Kathy Krezel, who penciled in her usual everyday starting lineup and built an early 3-1 lead before Moeller clinched the meet-winning point.
"It's definitely good to have Ali playing again," said Krezel, whose lineup improved to 12-2 overall and 2-1 in SCC dual meets.
Briana Gratz and Andrea Carstensen staked the Cardinals to an early 1-0 lead on the team ledger, rolling to a 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Anikka Wilhelmi and Lacey Benz at the third doubles spot.
Gratz and Carstensen worked in synchronization throughout the entire match to exit only seconds before left-hander Ellie Tonder collected Fairmont's second team tally.
Tonder utilized a solid service game and stellar groundstrokes to pace a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Kali Viland at the No. 4 spot in the singles bracket.
The Bucs, however, answered as the first doubles combination of Natali Fellows and Karli Olsen outslugged Sophie Shelgren and Abby Fitzgerald, 6-1, 6-4, to narrow the team gap to 2-1.
Missy Viesselman countered quickly for the Cardinals, reeling off three consecutive games in the second set to close out a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Lindsey Prokop at second singles.
Ahead 3-1, Moeller outlasted hard-hitting Kaitlyn Olsen at the No. 3 spot in the singles bracket to earn Fairmont's fourth team tally.
Blue Earth Area's Karleigh Wolff, who was recovering from illness earlier in the week, and Fairmont's Aubrey Green locked up in a hard-hitting duel at No. 1 singles.
Green grabbed an early 4-1 edge on the scorecards before Wolff slowly chipped away with a pivotal service break to inch within 4-3. The two aces battled to 6-all before Wolff prevailed in the first-set tiebreaker, 7-4.
Wolff then staved off Green in a good-to-the-last-shot second set, 6-4, to swing a team tally in the Bucs' direction at 4-2.
Fairmont's second doubles tandem of Jill Paris and Shantel Quist assembled a textbook comeback en route to downing Beka Krussow and Paige Darrington, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Quist and Paris trailed 4-3 in the third and decisive set before Paris' quick-reflex smash and Quist's steady returns triggered a key service break to eventually lead to come-from-behind victory in the dusk.
Fairmont (12-2, 2-1) will finish its conference dual meet with Waseca at 4 p.m today in Waseca. The Bluejays held a 2-0 lead on the team ledger, with the five remaining matches already in their second sets, when rain on Tuesday forced the dual meet to be postponed.
Fairmont then travels to St. Peter on Tuesday.
Blue Earth Area (10-4, 1-2 SCC) plays host to New Ulm at 4:30 p.m. Monday in a rescheduled match from three days ago.