Wildcats scratch out 4-3 tennis win over Cardinals

BASELINE SAVE ­— Fairmont’s Elly Stegge (left) elevates to track down a shot near the baseline during a nonconference tennis meet with River Valley on Tuesday at the Cardinal Courts in Fairmont. Cardinals’ second doubles partner Ellie Plumhoff moves into position for a possible return. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — If the Fairmont vs. River Valley regular-season girls tennis dual meet on Tuesday proved a precursor for the Section 2A Team Meet, a possible rematch will have prep fans sitting on the edge of the bleachers in October.

With the non-league dual meet knotted at 3-all, Cardinals’ senior Abi Peyman proved her mettle once again by battling back from a down-to-the-wire 7-5 opening-set loss to Wildcats’ junior Brissa Hernandez at No. 2 singles.

Peyman reeled off a 6-0 second-set victory to extend the meet’s decisive clash to a third set, but Brissa Hernandez countered to fend off Fairmont’s hard-hitting captain by a 6-3 score to help River Valley — a sharing co-operative program between Sleepy Eye and Springfield — scratch out a 4-3 win over Fairmont at the Cardinal Courts.

“Abi has delivered numerous meet-winning points for us in the past. Just to force a third set today was an example of her determination,” said Fairmont head coach Laura Olsen. “Even in our losses today, we played River Valley closely to the end and that’s a real positive.”

Olsen shuffled her Cardinals again in the doubles bracket, maintaining the senior theme for the meet by pairing seniors Elly Stegge and Ellie Plumhoff at the No. 2 spot in the bracket and the tandem breezed to a 6-0, 6-1 triumph over Anna Rossbach and Gabby Anderson.

Junior Claire Brockmann combined court skills with freshman Carly Gustafson at third doubles, and the Fairmont youth movement proved successful again. Brockmann and Carly Gustafson pounded out a 6-2, 6-0 win over Selene Kronfeldt and Chloe Okerman to help stake the Cardinals to an early 2-0 lead on the team ledger.

Sophomore Taylor Berkner then outdueled Cardinal senior captain Hope Klanderud in a closer-than-the-final-score-indicated battle of hard-hitting baseliners at the No. 1 singles position. Berkner utilized a powerful forehand and quick-reflex returns from near the net to pull off the 6-1, 6-3 decision to narrow the Wildcats’ team deficit.

Freshman Emelia Klanderud countered for Fairmont by blasting her way past Candela Pliego Hernandez by a 6-3, 6-2 decision at third singles. The younger Klanderud made a smooth transition from winning at No. 1 doubles 24 hours earlier.

Kiera Lafferty then outslugged Madi Peyman in a nail-biter at fourth singles, 6-3, 6-4, to inch the Wildcats within 3-2 in the team scoring before River Valley’s first doubles team of Erika Wells and Jillian Mays outlasted Brynn Gustafson and Jaydan Moses in another narrow winning margin, 6-4, 6-3, to knot the meet at 3-all.

Abi Peyman and Brissa Hernandez seesawed their way through their opening set, with Peyman holding early leads of 2-1 and 3-2 before Hernandez rallied for the 7-5 win. Peyman caught her second wind during the change-over and assembled a textbook 6-0 second-set win to force a third set.

Fairmont (8-3) plays host to St. Peter on Thursday at the Cardinal Courts in a Big South Conference meet, while River Valley plays host to Waseca on Thursday in Sleepy Eye.

River Valley 4, Fairmont 3

Singles Bracket

• Taylor Berkner (RV) def. Hope Klanderud, 6-1, 6-3.

• Brissa Hernandez (RV) def. Abi Peyman, 7-5, 0-6, 6-3.

• Emelia Klanderud (FMT) def. Candela Plieco Hernandez, 6-2, 6-3.

• Kiera Lafferty (RV) def. Madi Peyman, 6-3, 6-4.

Doubles Bracket

• Erika Wells-Jillian Mays (RV) def. Brynn Gustafson-Jaydan Moses, 6-4, 6-3.

• Elly Stegge-Ellie Plumhoff (FMT) def. Anna Rossbach-Gabby Anderson, 6-0, 6-1.

• Claire Brockmann-Carly Gustafson (FMT) def. Selene Kronfeldt-Chloe Okerman, 6-2, 6-0.


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