Area tennis foursome set for individual state meet
MINNEAPOLIS — A new experience in a familiar setting.
That’s the scenario when Fairmont’s doubles team of junior Hope Klanderud and senior Anika Haugen, along with Blue Earth Area junior singles players Addison Armstrong and Olivia Dutton, deliver their first serves during the opening round of the two-day Class A individual state tennis meet on Thursday.
Klanderud and Haugen, the Section 2 runners-up, will face No. 4-seeded Karlee Prahl and Ryanna Steinhaus of Litchfield in first-round play at 10 a.m. at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in Minneapolis.
Klanderud enters the state meet with a 16-10 record after splitting her time between No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, while Haugen compiled a 20-8 mark from the top spot in the doubles bracket this fall. Klanderud and Haugen both played doubles on a Cardinals’ lineup that placed fourth during the 2021 Class A state team competition.
“It definitely helps calm one’s nerves if you’ve experienced playing at that level inside the bubble before,” said Fairmont head coach Laura Olsen. “Because the weather was cool and windy outside earlier in the week, we snuck over and used the Blue Earth indoor courts.
“(Assistant) Tim (Slama) and I challenged them in doubles and made Hope and Anika work on hitting solid targets and also moved them around the court quite a bit.”
Klanderud and Haugen will face Prahl and Steinhaus, who played the majority of the regular season at the top two spots in Litchfield’s singles bracket.
Steinhaus returns to the Minneapolis-based tennis center after netting a first-round win and a quarterfinal loss to state runner-up Isabelle Einess of Breck during the 2021 Class A state singles meet.
The winner between the Fairmont and Litchfield tandems advances to face either No. 5-seeded Elyse Palen and Caroline Daly of Rochester Lourdes or Claire Lowry and Kayla Jahn of Lac Qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd in the 2 p.m. quarterfinals on Thursday.
Palen teamed with Taylor Elliott to capture second-place state doubles honors to Breck’s Ellie Pirtle and Petra Lyon in 2021. Ironically, Elliott and current doubles partner Erin Witter are unseeded and face No. 3-seeded Greta Johnson and Chloe Alley of Minnehaha Academy in the first round.
St. James Area’s Allison Bluedorn and Keyana Haler, the Section 2 champions, deliver first serves against Crookston’s Halle Winjum and Emma Gunderson in opening-round play. The winner gains the quarterfinals against either the Elliott-Witter duo or the Johnson-Alley tandem.
Lyon is paired with Witt Mehbod, who combined with 2022 graduate Aditi Nadkarin to garner fourth in state doubles last fall. The Breck tandem netted the No. 1 seed for this year’s competition.
In 8 a.m. Class A state singles action Thursday, Armstrong — the Section 2 champion — opens individual action against Pine City senior Addison Sell. Armstrong enters the match with a 21-2 record, while Sell holds a 20-10 mark.
The winner between Armstrong and Sell gains the quarterfinals against either No. 1-seeded Isabelle Einess of Breck or Providence Academy junior Annika Harberts Ott.
Einess, who earned the silver medal in singles last fall, sports a perfect 18-0 record, while Harberts Ott carries a 10-5 mark inside the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center. Harberts Ott proved the 2021 Class A singles consolation runner-up.
Both Armstrong and Dutton competed at the Minneapolis-based tennis facility as eighth-graders in the doubles portion of Blue Earth Area’s 2019 Class A state consolation team.
Dutton, who sports a 22-2 record, faces Le Sueur-Henderson senior Chloe Brandt in first-round singles play on Thursday. Brandt — who’s 18-5 on the current campaign– returns to the state singles bracket after losing her opener and winning her initial consolation match before losing to Harberts Ott.
The winner between Dutton and Brandt advances to play either No. 2-seeded Ryann Witter (22-1) of Rochester Lourdes or Staples-Motley eighth-grader Ronnie Noska (28-2). Witter captured the state bronze medal in singles play in 2021.
The Class A individual state tennis meet concludes next Friday.