MINNEAPOLIS — The Ponies don’t have to share this one.
After falling to Mounds View in the Suburban East Conference finale to tie for the conference title, the Stillwater girls’ tennis team upended the rival Mustangs 4-3 on Wednesday to claim the consolation title at the Class AA state tournament at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center.
“They were thrilled,” said Ponies coach Dave Kahl, whose team lost to Mounds View 5-2 on Sept. 27. “(Mounds View) does such a great job each year and we were proud to be able to win today. It was a great team effort and certainly it was not hard for the players to be awfully happy.”
Stillwater’s only two points in that previous meeting came from Aliza Deming and Jenna Sherrick at third and fourth singles, but with the same match-ups on the court Wednesday, the Ponies repeated those points and added victories from Savannah Johnson at second singles and the team of Hannah Quinn and Shelby Ahrendt at second doubles.
“We lost three three-set matches and had a couple very close ones that we lost, but all of them were competitive, so going into the match I thought we had a good chance. You could win all seven or lose all seven, but it will probably be somewhere in between.”
Johnson, a freshman who lost in straight sets against Kourtney Jakubic the last time out, continued her torrid play of late while posting a 6-3, 6-2 victory on Wednesday.
“I thought Savannah was a good match-up,” Kahl said. “She has been playing so well that it’s hard not to have a lot of confidence in her right now.”
Quinn and Ahrendt won a first-set tie-breaker and were the last match on the court while pulling off a 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 victory over Annie DeWitt and Kenzie Anderson at second doubles. There were some anxious moments after the Ponies jumped out to a 5-0 in the second set, but were able to clinch the victory with a strong serve by Quinn that the Mustangs couldn’t get back on match point.
“Give Mounds View credit, they kept battling,” Kahl said. “They saved a match point or two along the way and it was just entertaining points, poaching at the net and moving around, it was very fun and of course the fans were excited.”
Deming, who will compete with Johnson in today’s state doubles tournament, posted a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Emma Bartels at third singles and Sherrick dispatched Catie Meinen 6-4, 6-2.
Natalie Phippen, who will also play today in the state singles tournament, fell to fellow individual state qualifier Summer Brills of Mounds View 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 singles.
The Mustangs also prevailed at first doubles with Mari Cartwright and Paige Thayer defeating Robbie Ellingson and Shelby Anderson 6-3, 7-5 and at third doubles where Lexi Pfenning and Mandy Huang outlasted Maggie Corman and Jackie Ellingson 6-7 (10-8), 6-1, 6-1.
It was a gratifying victory for Stillwater against a team that has often been its biggest hurdle over the past decade and beyond.
“It kind of validates that conference championship for us a little bit,” Kahl said. “I just think the girls got better and we have improved, so that’s always rewarding for a coach to feel that way. They are just a wonderful group of young ladies on and off the court and they enjoy each other thoroughly and that makes it extra fun as well. There are only three teams that end their season with a victory and we happen to be one of them this year.”
Stillwater 4, Mounds View 3
No. 1 — Summer Brills (MV) def. Natalie Phippen, 6-2, 6-1.
No. 2 — Savannah Johnson (St) def. Kourtney Jakubic, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 3 — Aliza Deming (St) def. Emma Bartels, 6-0, 6-1.
No. 4 — Jenna Sherrick (St) def. Catie Meinen, 6-4, 6-2.
No. 1 — Mari Cartwright-Paige Thayer (MV) def. Robbie Ellingson-Shelby Anderson, 6-3, 7-5.
No. 2 — Hannah Quinn-Shelby Ahrendt (St) def. Annie DeWitt-Kenzie Anderson, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4.
No. 3 — Lexi Pfenning-Mandy Huang (MV) def. Maggie Corman-Jackie Ellingson, 6-7 (10-8), 6-1, 6-1.