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Ellie Bergstrand followed through on a forehand return during her match against Foley during the Alexandria Quad on Friday. Blaze Fugina/Echo Press

Alex tennis ready to compete for conference title

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The Alexandria tennis team is hoping this is the year they will finish on top in the Central Lakes Conference.

They have been close to achieving that goal in the past few years. Last season the Cardinals finished second in the CLC behind St. Cloud Tech with a 10-2 record, and in 2011 they finished third. Both of their conference losses in 2012 came against St. Cloud Tech.

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The Cardinals have also been close to finishing on top in the section. They expect to be among the top four teams in the section this year, along with St. Cloud Tech, Bemidji and Monticello. Last season they lost in the Section 8AA quarterfinals to Brainerd 5-2.

But this year the Cardinals are setting out to overcome the competition in the CLC and the section. Ellie Bergstrand, a junior and one of the team’s four captains, said they have worked through the summer to improve in the standings this fall.

“Yeah, that’s definitely one of our goals,” Bergstrand said. “A lot of girls have been working hard this summer. And we’ve worked hard a lot in practice this fall, so that’s definitely one of our goals, to get there.”

The other captains this season for the Cardinals are seniors Marissa Wheeler, Rachel Sjostrand and Hannah Vickstrom.

One of the hurdles the Cardinals need to overcome is finding players to fill the top of the varsity lineup. Last season, their first singles player Rebecca Lukes graduated, along with the first doubles team of Jessica Larson and Jenna Hedstrom.

“We have a lot of new girls, but they’re all really strong,” Wheeler said. “They’ll replace the talent we lost last year, definitely.”

Bergstrand will help fill the void at first singles. She was named all-conference last year while playing second singles, and finished with an overall record of 23-4.

“It’s definitely always a challenge,” Bergstrand said about playing first singles. “You’re playing the best girl out there, but I’m up for it.”

With the new lineup, many other players are also filling new roles this year. Head coach Dave Ronning has been trying different lineups early in the season to see what works the best.

“It’s exciting, it’s new pressures and new challenges but it’s really fun,” Vickstrom said about the changes in the lineup. “And we have a really supportive team.”

At their annual home quad last Friday, the Cardinals players were looking ahead to the start of the conference season. Their first CLC match was Tuesday in Willmar.

“We see improvement every single match, so we’ll be ready when the season really starts,” Sjostrand said.

To finish first in the CLC, they will likely need to win at least one match against St. Cloud Tech this season. The Cardinals are setting out with the goal to beat last year’s top finisher in the conference.

“Our biggest goal is to beat St. Cloud Tech, which is who we lost to twice last year,” Wheeler said. “We just want to have a great season and win the north section.”

BEGINNING OF SEASON

The Cardinals began their season 4-2 after playing two different quads in their first week.

The Cardinals opened the season at a Melrose quad, where they won matches against Melrose and Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and lost to Becker. They also hosted a home quad on Friday, winning matches against Monticello and Annandale and losing to Foley.

In the early part of the season, the Cardinals have been switching the lineup around to see what makes them most competitive.

“We made some minor lineup changes and the girls responded very well,” Ronning said. “We will be trying different lineups to see what will work the best for our team as the season rolls on.”

ALEXANDRIA QUAD

FOLEY 5, ALEXANDRIA 2

SINGLES – No. 1 – Abby Kanter (F) def. Ellie Bergstrand, 6-3, 6-1; No. 2 – Hattie Scott (F) def. Carly Snell, 6-1, 2-6, (10-6); No. 3 – MacKenzie Bowland (F) def. Bria Schuler, 6-3, 6-1; No. 4 – Kayla McIver (F) def. Katie Peterson, 6-1, 6-0

DOUBLES – No. 1 – Alycia Chmielewski/Kylee Funk (F) def. Marissa Wheeler/Rachel Sjostrand, 6-4, 3-6, (10-7); No. 2 – Kim Wilkens/Kerri Wilkens (A) def. Lizzy Latterell/Jaimie Studenski, 6-4, 6-2; No. 3 – Hannah Vickstrom/Abby Telander (A) def. Austin Gorecki/Allie Mumm, 2-6, 6-3, (11-9)

ALEXANDRIA 4, MONTICELLO 3

SINGLES – No. 1 – Alex Reunig (M) def. Bergstrand, 6-7(5), 6-4, (10-6); No. 2 – Gracie Sawatzke (M) def. Snell, 6-1, 2-6, (10-6); No. 3 –  Kim Wilkens (A) def. Kendra Stoick, 3-6, 6-0, (10-6);  No. 4 – Schuler (A) def. Taylor Arthur, 6-3, 6-4

DOUBLES – No. 1 – Wheeler/Sjostrand (A) def. Annie Vockendorf/Brooke Volpone, 6-3, 7-6(2); No. 2 – Kerri Wilkens/Peterson (A) def. Cristine Lui/Myranda Anderson, 5-7, 6-1 (10-7); No. 3 – Sydney Antony/Maria Becker (M) def. Vickstrom/Telander, 6-3, 6-3

ALEXANDRIA 6, ANNANDALE 1

SINGLES – No. 1 – Bergstrand (A) def. Sarah Grimm, 6-0, 4-6, (10-4); No. 2 – Snell (A) def. Anna Zahler, 6-2, 6-1; No. 3 – Kim Wilkens (A) def. Lexie Arlt, 6-1, 6-0; No. 4 – Schuler (A) def. Casey Mikel, 6-1, 6-0

DOUBLES – No. 1 – Lisa Neumann/Sarah Laudenback (Ann.) def. Wheeler/Sjostrand, 6-2, 3-6, (10-7); No. 2 – Kerri Wilkens/Peterson (A) def. Genna Boyce/Libby Wirth, 6-1, 6-2; No. 3 – Vickstrom/Telander (A) def. Angie Orr/Taylor Johnson, 6-2, 6-1

MELROSE QUAD

BECKER 4, ALEXANDRIA 3

SINGLES – No. 1 – Ellie Bergstrand (A) def. Olivia Hultgren, 6-4, 6-2; No. 2 – Katie Suckert (B) def. Rachel Sjostrand, 7-5, 6-2; No. 3 – Rachel Lukkerila (B) def. Carly Snell, 6-4, 5-7 (10-5); No. 4 – Bria Schuler (A) def. Shelby Huebert, 6-4, 6-0

DOUBLES – No. 1 – Kendra Buettner/Lindsey Lorette (B) def. Marissa Wheeler/Kim Wilkens, 6-4, 6-4; No. 2 – Elle Tabako/Madison Anderson (B) def. Kerri Wilkens/Katie Peterson, 6-3, 3-6, (10-7); No. 3 – Hannah Vickstrom/Abby Telander (A) def. Savannah Johnston/Amanda Brown, 6-2, 7-5

EXHIBITION – Kayla Wilken (B) def. Jenna Steffl, 6-2

ALEXANDRIA 5, MELROSE 2

SINGLES – No. 1 – Bergstrand (A) def. Grace Brang, 7-5, 0-6, (10-7); No. 2 – Elisha Engelmeyer (M) def. Sjostrand, 6-1, 6-2; No. 3 – Snell (A) def. Jailyn Brinkman, 7-6(4), 6-7(5), (10-7); No. 4 – Schuler (A) def. Becky Klaphake, 6-3, 4-6, (10-3)

DOUBLES – No. 1 – Maddie Rausch/Kenedy Meyer (M) def. Wheeler/Kim Wilkens, 6-4, 6-7(4), (10-7); No. 2 – Kerri Wilkens/Peterson (A) def. Kelly Kennedy/Sheila Poepping, 2-6, 6-4, (10-5); No. 3 – Vickstrom/Telander (A) def. Madison Worms/Katie Schulzetenberg, 5-7, 6-1, (10-8)

EXHIBITION – Steffl/McKenna Petrie (A) def. Rachel Kennedy/Becka Lorette, 8-2

ALEXANDRIA 6, LONG PRAIRIE-GREY EAGLE 1

SINGLES – No. 1 – Bergstrand (A) def. McKenzie Barth, 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 –Sjostrand (A) def. Lipida Mora, 6-1, 6-1; No. 3 – Snell (A) def. Ally Ecker, 6-1, 6-0; No. 4 – Schuler (A) def. Hannah Heuer, 6-0, 6-0

DOUBLES – No. 1 – Abby Ecker/Brooklyn Levin (LP) def. Wheeler/Kim Wilkens, 2-6, 7-5, (10-8); No. 2 – Kerri Wilkens/Peterson (A) def. Tori Roe/Amanda Tschida, 6-0, 6-1; No. 3 – Vickstrom/Telander (A) def. Allison Gogglenberger/Whitney Eckel, 6-0, 6-0

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Blaze Fugina
Blaze Fugina is a sports reporter at the Echo Press. Before working in Alexandria, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. He previously worked as the community editor of the Mound Laker for more than a year. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.
(320) 763-1230
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