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B.E. Area tennis bests Luverne in cross-over clash

LOCKED ON TARGET —Blue Earth Area’s McKenna Dutton (right) locks on target before drilling a backhand winner during a Big South Conference cross-over tennis match Tuesday at Hal Schroeder Courts in Blue Earth. Bucs’ No. 1 doubles partner Kylie Rosenau backs up Dutton on the play. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

BLUE EARTH — A perfect regular season.

The Blue Earth Area Bucs girls tennis lineup captured all three three-set matches to fend off the vastly-improved Luverne Cardinals, 7-0, during Tuesday’s Big South Conference cross-over meet at Hal Schroeder Courts in Blue Earth.

Blue Earth Area (11-0), the East Division champion, squares off against West Division winner St. James Area in the Big South championship meet at 4:30 p.m. Thursday back at Schroeder Courts.

“We’re looking forward to playing St. James (Area) for the conference championship in a couple of days,” said Blue Earth Area head coach Konny Wolff. “It’s been a great rivalry between the two tennis programs over the years, and I’m sure Thursday will be more of the same.”

After being postponed on Monday due to rain, the Bucs needed an extra set at No. 1 singles, No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles to shake off a bit of second-set rust.

“When I went out to chat during a change-over during the third set, my second doubles team of Lyndsey (Borris) and Britt (Howard) said, ‘We don’t know where we went during that second set, but we’re back now,'” Wolff said with a laugh.

Borris and Britt Howard capped the Bucs’ three consecutive three-set winning streak that began with teammate Arika Howard’s meet-clinching point at third singles.

Arika Howard coasted to 10 game victories in a row to garner a 6-0 opening-set win and a 4-0 second-set lead before Luverne’s Ainslie Robinson answered by netting seven of the ensuing eight games to pocket the second set, 7-5. Arika Howard managed to catch her second breath during the change-over and reeled off a 6-1 third-set decision to stake BEA to a 4-0 lead on the team ledger.

Luverne’s Roz Oye made a bid to upend perennial state qualifier Te’a Armstrong by netting a 6-3 win in the first set at No. 1 singles before the BEA captain rallied from a 4-3 second-set deficit. Te’a Armstrong earned three game wins in a row for a 6-4 set triumph, and forced a decisive third segment.

Te’a Armstrong eventually outpaced the hard-hitting Oye during a closer-than-the-final-score-indicated third set, 6-0, to lock up the Bucs’ fifth team tally.

Borris and Britt Howard claimed a 6-2 opening-set decision over Luverne’s Olivia Wieneke and Jacey Smith at No. 2 doubles only to watch their opponents rebound from a 6-5 second-set deficit. Wieneke and Smith outlasted Borris and Howard in a second-set tiebreaker, 7-6 (13-11), to force a third segment.

Ironically, Borris and Howard re-energized during a short change-over break and assembled a 6-2 set triumph to lock up the Bucs’ sixth team point.

“I was impressed by the way our one doubles team and two singles players hung in there, and finally pulled off victories for us during the third set today,” said Wolff.

Cali Beyer and Olivia Dutton closed out BEA’s shutout by defeating Liz Kelm and Brynn Thier at No. 3 doubles, 6-3, 6-2. The two pairs were the last varsity match to step to the playing surface at the six-court facility.

Marissa Benz utilized her steady groundstrokes and pinpoint serving to reel off back-to-back 6-2 set wins over Elisa Jarchow at No. 2 singles to swing a quick 1-0 lead to BEA before the Bucs’ No. 1 doubles tandem of McKenna Dutton and Kylie Rosenau pounded out a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Lauren VerSteeg and Solveig Tofteland. Dutton’s up-close overheads and Rosenau’s precision backhands fueled BEA’s second team point.

Addison Armstrong then generated Point 3 for the Bucs by coasting by Mia Wenzel at fourth singles, 6-2, 6-2, to set the table for the three extended matches.

Varsity Meet

B.E. Area 7, Luverne 0

Singles Bracket

No. 1: Te’a Armstrong (BEA) def. Roz Oye, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.

No. 2: Marissa Benz (BEA) def. Elise Jarchow, 6-2, 6-2.

No. 3: Arika Howard (BEA) def. Ainslie Robinson, 6-0, 5-7, 6-1.

No. 4: Addison Armstrong (BEA) def. Mia Wenzel, 6-2, 6-2.

Doubles Bracket

No. 1: McKenna Dutton-Kylie Rosenau (BEA) def. Lauren VerSteeg-Solveig Tofteland, 6-4, 6-1.

No. 2: Lyndsey Borris-Britt Howard (BEA) def. Olivia Wieneke-Jacey Smith, 6-2, 6-7 (11-13), 6-2.

No. 3: Cali Beyer-Olivia Dutton (BEA) def. Liz Kelm-Brynn Thier, 6-3, 6-2.

Editor’s Note: The Fairmont Cardinals girls tennis team will play host to the St. Peter Saints at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Cardinal Courts in Fairmont in a rescheduled Big South Conference dual meet.

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