MINNEAPOLIS — The Stillwater girls’ tennis team bounced back from a quarterfinal setback against Minnetonka on Tuesday to earn a spot in the consolation finals following play on Day 1 of the Class AA state tournament at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center.
After getting blanked by the second-seeded Skippers 7-0 in the opener, Stillwater (16-3) upended St. Cloud Tech to advance to today’s fifth-place match against Suburban East Conference rival Mounds View.
“I’m just real excited for the girls,” Ponies coach Dave Kahl said. “I think you could tell they were pretty psyched to have a chance to win a consolation championship. We would have liked to beat Minnetonka, but they walked off with their heads held high.”
The fifth-seeded Mustangs, who lost to Rochester Century 6-1 before eliminating Elk River 6-1 in the consolation round, defeated Stillwater 5-2 to earn a share of the conference title with the Ponies on Sept. 27.
Minnetonka 7, Stillwater 0
Despite getting swept by the Skippers, Stillwater kept things interesting with at least three matches that could have gone either way.
Stillwater’s top singles player and individual state qualifier Natalie Phippen rebounded from a sluggish start to force a third set before falling in a super tie-breaker to Bri Smith, who pulled out a 6-2, 1-6, (10-6) victory.
The Skippers also needed three sets to prevail at third doubles where Katherine Phillips and Jenna Fester held off Jackie Ellingson and Maggie Corman 4-6, 6-4, (10-2). Minnetonka also had its hands full at second doubles where Karina Smiley and Abigail Steiger held off Shelby Ahrendt and Hannah Quinn for a hard-fought 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) victory.
“The girls really played pretty good,” Kahl said. “There were a number of close matches and some of the matches were awfully competitive. Obviously we lost a few tie-breakers in the third set and if you turn those around the score looks a lot different, but they’ve got a really nice team and I appreciate the way they really play aggressive tennis. They deserved to win and I expect them to make the finals.”
Singles has been the strength of Stillwater’s balanced lineup all season, but the Skippers won in straight sets at the second through four spots. Isabella Lambert defeated Savannah Johnson 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles and Jeanne Kregness stopped Aliza Deming 6-3, 6-2 at the third spot. Adrienne Irmer followed with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Jenna Sherrick at fourth singles.
“I think their second through fourth singles were better than I thought they’d be,” Kahl said. “We’ve leaned on our singles a lot this year and to not win any of them is a nice compliment to Minnetonka’s team. It was real good tennis and I felt like we belonged there on the court with them.”
Minnetonka also won in straight sets at first doubles, where Sydney Baldwin and Theresa Tebon defeated Shelby Anderson and Robbie Ellingson 6-2, 6-0.
“Their doubles teams were real aggressive, but our girls battled hard and played well,” Kahl said. “Our doubles played better across the board in the Minnetonka match than (against Tech). They were sharp and just had some great points.”
Minnetonka 7, Stillwater 0
No. 1 — Bri Smith (Min) def. Natalie Phippen, 6-2, 1-6, (10-6).
No. 2 — Isabella Lambert (Min) def. Savannah Johnson, 6-1, 6-1.
No. 3 — Jeanne Kregness (Min) def. Aliza Deming, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 4 — Adrienne Irmer (Min) def. Jenna Sherrick, 6-1, 6-3.
No. 1 — Sydney Baldwin-Theresa Tebon (Min) def. Shelby Anderson-Robbie Ellingson, 6-2, 6-0.
No. 2 — Karina Smiley-Abigail Steiger (Min) def. Shelby Ahrendt-Hannah Quinn, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4).
No. 3 — Katherine Phillips-Jenna Fester (Min) def. Jackie Ellingson-Maggie Corman, 4-6, 6-4, (10-2).
Stillwater 5, St. Cloud Tech 2
The Ponies turned in a strong effort while eliminating the Tigers on Tuesday evening, including straight set victories in all four singles matches. Regardless of what happens against Mounds View on Wednesday, Stillwater did not want to go 0-2 at the state tourney.
“They’ve got real good tennis (in St. Cloud) and they had a real nice team,” Kahl said. “There definitely was that feeling of just, I don’t know if it’s redemption or showing that you belong there and are really one of the top teams in the state, but it just kind of solidified for us the type of season that we’ve had. The seniors, especially at that point suddenly it becomes an elimination match for their entire careers, so there was added pressure in that.”
Phippen knocked off fellow individual state qualifier Taylor Tarrolly 6-2, 6-3 at first singles while Johnson — who will join Deming in competing in the individual doubles tournament — cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Katelyn Tarrolly at second singles.
Deming defeated Leah Wurm 6-1, 6-4 at third singles and Sherrick stopped Katie Williams 6-2, 6-2 at fourth singles.
“The singles played terrific,” Kahl said. “Aliza was battling a little bit of a pulled muscle and she was just real smart and steady and was able to come through for us. Savannah just played a phenomenal match at second singles. She was striking the ball as well as I’ve ever seen her do it, and against a good opponent. Jenna is just a bulldog for us at fourth singles.”
The Tigers notched victories at first and second doubles, but Jackie Ellingson and Corman delivered a 6-2, 6-4 victory for Stillwater over Sarah Donnelly and Stephanie Nardi at the third spot.
“Those two scrap and right and find ways to get the ball back over the net one more time than their opponents,” Kahl said.
Stillwater’s Anderson and Robbie Ellingson dropped a 6-2, 6-0 decision at first doubles and Ahrendt and Quinn were defeated 6-2, 6-3 at second doubles.
Stillwater 5, St. Cloud Tech 2
No. 1 — Natalie Phippen (St) def. Taylor Tarrolly, 6-2, 6-3.
No. 2 — Savannah Johnson (St) def. Katelyn Tarrolly, 6-1, 6-1.
No. 3 — Aliza Deming (St) def. Leah Wurm, 6-1, 6-4.
No. 4 — Jenna Sherrick (St) def. Katie Williams, 6-2, 6-2.
No. 1 — Alexie Portz-Jill Kedrowski (SCT) def. Shelby Anderson-Robbie Ellingson, 6-2, 6-0.
No. 2 — Sabrina Sturm-Samantha Eisenreich (SCT) def. Shelby Ahrendt-Hannah Quinn, 6-2, 6-3.
No. 3 — Jackie Ellingson-Maggie Corman (St) def. Sarah Donnelly-Stephanie Nardi, 6-2, 6-4.