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River Valley edges No. 6 Fairmont netters

SISTERLY SMASH — Fairmont’s Maggy Totzke (right) prepares to smash an overhead shot during nonconference tennis action against River Valley on Tuesday at the Cardinal Courts in Fairmont. Second doubles partner Libby Totzke (background) watches the shot. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — The vastly-improved River Valley Wildcats scratched out a hard-fought 4-3 non-league girls tennis victory over Class A No. 6-ranked Fairmont’s modified lineup on Tuesday at the Cardinal Courts.

With four regular underclassmen starters turning over their spots during Fairmont’s ‘senior day’ portion of Homecoming week, the Cardinals and Wildcats battled for 2 hours in a nip-and-tuck dual meet in Fairmont.

Tied at 3-all, River Valley’s Courtlyn Runck and Fairmont’s Rachel O’Connor locked up in an edge-of-the-bleachers slugfest during fourth singles action to determine the team outcome.

O’Connor coasted to a 6-2 opening-set victory before Runck countered with a 6-1 second-set decision to force a third segment.

O’Connor finally snapped the cycle of consecutive service breaks during Game 8 of the third set, holding to grab a 5-3 lead. Runck, however, battled her way back through multiple deuce games to reel off three game wins in a row to take a 6-5 lead.

O’Connor displayed her mettle by hammering her way back to a win in Game 12 to force a third-set tiebreaker. Despite building leads of 4-1 and 5-2, Runck needed a dozen points in the extra session to finally cap a 7-6 (7-5) victory to net the team win for River Valley.

Fairmont, however, built a quick 2-0 lead on the team ledger when the Totzke twins — Libby and Maggy — combined for a 6-1, 6-0 win at second doubles, and senior standout Claire Nemmers also needed only a baker’s-dozen worth of games to net a 6-1, 6-0 decision at first singles.

“We only get the chance to play together once a season, so we have to make the most of it,” said Libby Totzke, who teamed with sister Maggy Totzke to defeat Alexis Garza and Brissa Hernandez. “Maggy’s a better singles player, so it makes sense to keep her there and me in doubles.”

Nemmers utilized a power serve and sizzling passing shots to coast by Brooklyn Moldan, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 1 singles before River Valley’s third doubles duo of Kiera Lafferty and Sydne Wahl reversed that identical score in their favor to defeat Kaycie Brookens and Aili Lockwood.

Ellie Hernes and Lauren Davis then synchronized their court skills to near perfection in their second set at first doubles. Davis capped the Cardinals’ 7-5 first-set triumph by blasting a forehand ‘tweener for a winner over Erika Lozano and Maya Nelson.

Hernes and Davis then clicked on all cylinders in rolling to a 6-0 second-set win to widen the Cardinals’ team lead to 3-1.

The Wildcats’ Kaydince Thoms outlasted Briana Joseph at second singles, 6-3, 6-4, while Taylor Berkner fended of Thalia Fernandez’s second-set comeback, 6-1, 7-5, at third singles to knot the dual meet at 3-all.

Fairmont (14-2) plays host to St. Peter at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cardinal Courts.

St. Peter 4, Blue Earth Area 3 — The hometown Saints swept the doubles bracket to edge the Bucs during Big South action Tuesday in St. Peter.

Josie Wiebusch and Macy Weller defeated Grace Hanson and Allie Lopez at first doubles, 6-2, 6-1, while St. Peter’s Sophia Doherty and Molly Voeltz served a 6-1, 6-4 loss to Ella Survis and Lauren Survis during No. 2 doubles play.

Raina Roemhildt and Kali Erickson then teamed at third doubles to post a 6-2, 6-0 win over Karissa Lopez and Carol Schrader to complete the Saints’ bracket sweep.

Annika Southworth delivered St. Peter’s lone singles point by defeating Addison Armstrong at the No. 2 spot in the lineup, 6-4, 6-1.

Marissa Benz netted back-to-back 6-2 set wins over Amelia Hildebrandt at first singles for the Bucs, while Kylie Rosenau outslugged Rhyan Holmgren during third singles, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), for BEA.

Olivia Dutton produced the Bucs’ other singles point by generating a 6-2, 6-4 win over Maddie Kamm at the No. 4 position in the lineup.

Blue Earth Area plays host to New Ulm at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Hal Schroeder Courts in Blue Earth.

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