Sophie Groen, Isabela Nelson treasure Senior Day women's tennis memories

Mar. 25—BEMIDJI — Sophie Groen and Isabela Nelson became fast friends during the 2020-21 season, their first with the Bemidji State women's tennis team.

They've lived together for three years and got to know each other very well during their tenure at BSU.

"We came in here our freshman year together," Nelson said. "It was during COVID. So it was really hard to meet people, and we instantly became the best of friends, best of teammates. She (is) one of my favorite hitting partners I've ever had."

Groen is from Uitgeest, Netherlands, and was an ace for the Beavers in the first two years of her career, regularly playing at the top of BSU's singles and doubles lineups. She was honored along with Nelson during the Beavers' Senior Day match against Minnesota Crookston on Friday at the Gillett Wellness Center.

Groen has been out for the better part of two years with lingering ailments.

"It's been tough," Groen said. "Kind of like a roller coaster, ups and downs. But I'm still enjoying it, and I'm excited to come back next year and end on a good (year)."

Groen will graduate this May with a bachelor's degree in Sport Management, but she has another season of eligibility in 2025. She plans to use it, but this year likely marks her final chance to play with Nelson.

Nelson, who hails from Thief River Falls, will also graduate this year and plans to take a gap year before enrolling at St. Scholastica to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

"It's been an awesome four years at Bemidji," Nelson said. "I'm really happy I decided to spend my four years of undergrad here. The people I've met here have been absolutely incredible. I couldn't have asked for a better team this year. All the girls, they work their butts off, and I really appreciate all the work they put in this year."

Nelson hopes to share the court with Groen more in the coming weeks.

"I was lucky enough to get to play doubles with her for a few matches this year, and I hope that's not quite over yet," Nelson continued. "I hope she gets back on the court towards the end of our season here and we can get some more doubles wins under our belt. I know it's been tough for her, but she's really been making her way through and I'm proud of how far she's come. I'm really happy that I got to meet her."

For head coach Kyle Fodness, the way Groen battled through adversity as a senior captain typified the variety of contributions she's made to the BSU team during her four years. Groen has made the effort to travel to all of the Beavers' matches this season whether or not she has played.

"You can have as many slogans (as you want) about doing the right thing no matter what and doing the best you can given the circumstances," Fodness said. "And that's all great when you're winning and you're healthy and things are going really well. That's put to the test when things are on the other end and not going well in one of those areas."

Fodness has been impressed with Groen's leadership regardless of her on-court status.

"(When) she finds out she's not playing, she jumps right into coaching," Fodness continued. "She transitioned right away from, 'Well, I'm not playing today,' to, 'What can I do to help the team today? This is the most I can do to help the team today. So I'm going to do that.'"

Bemidji State (1-6, 0-5 NSIC) struggled against an improved Golden Eagles team, losing 7-0 on the scoresheet. The Beavers were defeated in all nine matches against UMC.

Kate Taylor suffered a close defeat at No. 1 singles, losing 6-3, 6-4. She teamed up with Valesca Rodriguez in BSU's closest doubles match, losing 6-4 at No. 1 doubles.

Ana Lucia Ibanez posted Bemidji State's best showing in singles. Playing in the No. 4 spot, Ibanez took the second set 6-4 over Minnesota Crookston's Blaike Zander but lost the decisive third set by the same 6-4 margin.

Minnesota Crookston 7, Bemidji State 0


No. 1: Schneider (UMC) def. Taylor 6-3, 6-4

No. 2: de Lucas Rivera (UMC) def. Rodriguez 6-0, 6-1

No. 3: Solis Guals (UMC) def. Sand 6-1, 6-4

No. 4: Zander (UMC) def. Ibanez 6-0, 4-6, 6-4

No. 5: Cases Mundet (UMC) def. Burger 6-0, 6-2

No. 6: Singh (UMC) def. Nelson 6-0, 6-1


No. 1: de Lucas Rivera/Solis Guals (UMC) def. Taylor/Rodriguez, 6-4

No. 2: Schneider/Zander (UMC) def. Sand/Ibanez 6-2

No. 3: Singh/Cases Mundet (UMC) def. Nelson/Schwartzer 6-0