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B.E. Area doubles net Day 2 at state; FHS’ Nemmers exits

Te'a Armstrong

MINNEAPOLIS — Both Section 3 doubles teams advanced to Day 2 of the Class A individual girls state tennis tournament, while both section singles qualifiers exited the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center after two matches Thursday.

Blue Earth Area’s tandem of Arika Howard and Te’a Armstrong, along with St. James Area’s Jaelyn Haler and Ellie Becker, opened state action in Minneapolis with losses before bouncing back to net wins in the consolation bracket.

Thief River Falls’ Khloe Lund and Bela Nelson served a 6-1, 7-6 (1) first-round loss to Howard and Armstrong before the Blue Earth Area doubles team rallied for a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Virginia’s Anneka Lundgren and Jacie Smith.

Howard and Armstrong face Rochester Lourdes’ Elyse Palen and Ryann Witter in one of today’s 8 a.m. consolation semifinals back at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center. Ironically, the winner of the Howard-Armstrong vs. Palen-Witter match plays the winner of the Haler-Becker vs. Neriah Lara-Vaida Behnke consolation semifinal in an 11:30 a.m. consolation championship clash today.

Haler and Becker square off against the Litchfield tandem at 8 a.m. today. The St. James Area doubles team reached Day 2 by posting a 6-1, 6-2 consolation win over Staples-Motley’s Tasha Achermann and Rose Han on Thursday.

No. 1-seeded Bella Suk and Allyson Jay of The Blake School opened Thursday’s state individual doubles tournament by serving a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Haler and Becker.

In Class A state singles action Thursday, No. 2-seeded Clare Palen of Rochester Lourdes coasted to back-to-back 6-0 set wins over Claire Nemmers during the Fairmont sophomore’s debut at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

Nemmers, the Section 3 singles runner-up and the Cardinals’ first state individual tennis qualifier since 2013, lost her opening consolation set to Le Sueur-Henderson’s Greta Nesbit and trailed 5-4 in the second set before retiring due to an injury sustained earlier in the playback match.

Maple River senior Vanessa Barkosky, the Section 3 champion who was making her third state appearance, posted a 6-3, 6-3 opening-round victory over Thief River Falls’ Emma Fagerstrom. Unfortunately for Barkosky, she was eliminated via a 6-0, 6-0 quarterfinal loss to No. 1-seeded Arlina Shen of The Blake School.

In today’s 8 a.m. championship semifinals, Shen squares off against No. 5-seeded Lydia Delich of Eveleth-Gilbert Area, while the No. 2-seeded Clare Palen faces No. 3-seeded Sonia Baig of Blake. The Class A state singles championship match is tentatively scheduled for 11:30 a.m. today.

In today’s 8 a.m. state doubles semifinals, top-seeded Suk and Jay battle No. 4-seeded Anna Seitz and Ava Warren of Virginia, while No. 2-seeded Avery Stilwell and Elise Bierbaum of Litchfield take on No. 3-seeded Emily Melio and Caroline Cameron of The Blake School. The Class A state doubles title clash is tentatively set for 11:30 a.m. back in Minneapolis.

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