Oct. 14—Maddie Jensen and Elena Peterson are moving on to the state individual tournament.
The Bemidji High School girls tennis team's top doubles tandem finished second at the Section 8AA Individual Tournament Finals on Saturday in Sartell, earning a berth to the Class AA state competition in the process.
They are the first BHS doubles team to reach the state tournament since Alexis Konecne and Abbie Kelm in 2015.
"The section tournament is really tennis at its best, because it forces you to make those adjustments under pressure, with a lot of people watching and a good atmosphere," BHS head coach Kyle Fodness said. "So it was very good for those two individually, but the girls on the team look up to those two so much that it's good for the rest of the girls to see that process get rewarded, because then it trickles down to everybody else. So even in an individual win, that was very nice as well."
Jensen and Peterson defeated opponents from St. Cloud Tech in the quarterfinal (3-6, 6-4, 6-2) and semifinal (6-4, 7-6 (7-5)) rounds. In the final against top-seeded Claire Erdal and Ericah Folden of Brainerd, Bemidji's duo lost 6-2, 7-5.
"They really built on a lot of their earlier matches from this year," Fodness said. "They're such smart players that they've built a good game plan based around what they both do well. And they've also realized some things that get them into trouble on the court. Especially in their two first matches, which were both very close, when the match got close, they did a good job relying on what they do really well. And that's what good veteran players do."
The state doubles tournament will start at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26, at the Baseline Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
Freshman Liz Peterson also competed in the singles bracket finals. She lost 6-0, 6-4 to Big Lake's Eleonora Piva in the quarterfinal round but received praise from several opposing coaches after her match.
"Boy, she got a lot of compliments," Fodness said. "She went 0-6 but then 4-6, and she was up (in the second set). And golly, the coaches were coming up. I don't know why, I've been trying to tell her the whole year, but I think she listened when everybody else was coming up and saying, 'Wow, bright future' and 'Good playing' and this and that. Out of the girls that lost early, she was the star of the show, which was kind of fun."