No. 6 B.E. Area tennis outslugs Fairmont, 5-2

CHIP SHOT — Fairmont first singles player Claire Nemmers chips a forehand return during Big South Conference tennis action against Blue Earth Area on Thursday at Cardinal Courts. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

FAIRMONT — A hard-hitting, down-to-the-wire girls tennis classic between a pair of Section 3A rivals.

The Class A No. 6-ranked Blue Earth Area Bucs displayed their mettle by rallying from a pair of one-set deficits to garner both full three-set doubles matches to help fend off upset-minded Fairmont, 5-2, Thursday at the Cardinal Courts.

“I was proud of the way both our first and third doubles (tandems) battled back to win in three sets today. We needed a good competitive match, and Fairmont gave us a good one,” said Blue Earth Area head coach Konny Wolff, whose lineup had lost only 3 of 49 matches in its prior seven dual-meet wins.

McKenna Dutton and Britt Howard produced the Bucs’ meet-clinching team point on the strength of their comeback at No. 1 doubles.

Fairmont’s Lauren Davis and Maggy Totzke coasted to a 6-2 first-set win over Dutton and Britt Howard, with Totzke smacking a set-sealing service ace.

Davis and Maggy Totzke then held a 4-3 second-set lead before Dutton and Britt Howard recorded a pivotal service break to swing a 5-4 advantage in their direction on the scorecards. But Davis and Totzke momentarily caught their collective second winds and notched a break of their own to grab a 6-5 edge.

Dutton’s angle shots and Howard’s power game fueled the Bucs’ comeback win in Game 12 to force a second-set tiebreaker. The Blue Earth Area No. 1 tandem then squeezed out a 9-7 win to force a third set.

“I thought our first doubles team played an outstanding match, but they just kind of ran out of gas in the third set,” said Fairmont head coach Eric Johnson.

Dutton and Britt Howard then rediscovered their rhythm and coasted to a 6-0 third-set win over Maggy Totzke and Davis to net the Bucs’ fourth team tally.

Blue Earth Area’s Addison Armstrong and Kylie Rosenau also rallied from down a set to collect a hard-fought victory in their No. 3 doubles match.

Fairmont’s Libby Totzke and Shannon Green held serve with Armstrong and Rosenau to 4-3 in their opening set before Totzke and Green earned a key service break to claim a 6-3 win.

Armstrong and Rosenau then reversed the scoring trend in the second set to pocket a 6-1 decision to force a decisive third segment.

Libby Totzke and Shannon Green built a 4-1 lead in the final set, but Armstrong and Rosenau regrouped to reel off five consecutive game wins to claim the final Bucs’ team point.

“They’re a young doubles team, so it was good to see them battled back from a big deficit in the third set to win,” Wolff said in reference to Armstrong and Rosenau.

Fairmont and Blue Earth Area also made some racket in their No. 2 doubles match, with the Cardinals’ Emily Hagen and Ellie Hernes persevering in a back-and-forth opening set.

“I was proud of the way our second doubles team of Emily Hagen and Ellie Hernes were able to close out their match, while Claire (Nemmers) and Te’a (Armstrong) just had a phenomenal match at first singles,” said Eric Johnson. “We just keep fighting back.”

Hagen and Hernes netted an early first-set service break for a 3-2 lead over the Bucs’ Cali Beyer and Lyndsey Borris before BEA’s “killer bees” stung for a service break of their own to grab a 5-4 edge.

Hernes and Hagen, however, hammered their way back to a 6-5 lead and eventual 7-5 opening-set win. Fairmont’s second doubles team rolled to a 6-2 second-set win to net the home team’s first team tally.

In a clash of potential top sectional singles seeds, Nemmers and Armstrong traded first-set runs of three and four consecutive games, respectively, before Nemmers reeled off victories in four of the next five games to pocket a 7-5 win for the Cardinals.

Armstrong, however, broke early in the second set to build a 3-0 lead before Nemmers answered by netting three of the ensuing four games to narrow the gap. Armstrong prevailed in the next two hard-hitting contests for a 6-3 win to force a third set.

With the team meet’s outcome determined, Nemmers and Armstrong settled for a supertiebreaker at No. 1 singles, with the evenly-matched slugfest going all the way to 34 points. Nemmers outlasted Armstrong, 18-16, to collect Fairmont’s second team point.

Blue Earth Area built a quick 3-0 lead on the team ledger on the strength of straight-set singles wins.

Arika Howard exited the Cardinal Courts in the minimum 12 games in her No. 3 match with Lauren Green, while the Bucs’ Macie Stevermer collected a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Briana Joseph at the No. 2 spot. BEA’s Marissa Benz outlasted Bergen Senf at the No. 4 singles spot, 6-2, 6-3.

Fairmont (6-3) competes in the Mound Westonka Quad against the host White Hawks, Shakopee and Southwest Christian at 9 a.m. Saturday in Mound.

Blue Earth Area (8-0) travels to Le Center Saturday to face Tri-City United in a 10 a.m. dual meet.

B.E. Area 5, Fairmont 2

Singles: Claire Nemmers (F) def. Te’a Armstrong, 7-5, 3-6, (18-16). Macie Stevermer (BEA) def. Briana Joseph, 6-2, 6-3. Arika Howard (BEA) def. Lauren Green, 6-0, 6-0. Marissa Benz (BEA) def. Bergen Senf, 6-2, 6-3.

Doubles: McKenna Dutton-Britt Howard (BEA) def. Lauren Davis-Maggy Totzke, 2-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-0. Emily Hagen-Ellie Hernes (F) def. Cali Beyer-Lyndsey Borris, 7-5, 6-2. Addison Armstrong-Kylie Rosenau (BEA) def. Libby Totzke-Shannon Green, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.