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Tennis: Dykema's win pushes Osakis to state

The Osakis tennis team won the Section 6A championship in Sartell on Wednesday after edging three-time defending section champion Minnewaska in a 4-3 final. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Osakis' Tia Dykema returns a shot against Sauk Centre on Sept. 25. Dykema got the match-winning point in Osakis' 4-3 win over the Lakers in the Section 6A finals on Wednesday. (Emily Myrin / Echo Press)2 / 2

Osakis’ Tia Dykema is a freshman, but she’s a freshman with some big-match experience already on the tennis court.

Dykema made the state singles tournament as an eighth grader in 2016. That was fun for her, but she wanted to get back to Minneapolis with her teammates this season. On Wednesday, she helped make that happen as Osakis won the Section 6A championship with a 4-3 win over three-time defending champion Minnewaska.

“We have a lot of happy girls today,” head coach Ryan Maddock said. “We have had very strong teams the last few years but couldn't get past Minnewaska. They are a very talented, well-coached team.”

All eyes were on the final match left on the courts in Sartell. Things were all square at 3-3 as two talented young players at first singles in Dykema and Minnewaska sophomore Danielle Thorfinnson battled it out for the team win.

These two teams met early in the year with Osakis winning 4-3, but Thorfinnson got the best of Dykema 7-5, 6-0 in August. As the matches ended around these two on Wednesday, Dykema remained focused knowing what was on the line.

“I think it kind of set in when everyone was cheering as the other matches were on,” Dykema said. “You knew we had lost when their team was cheering so loud. That’s kind of when I knew it was for the last match that we had to win.”

It took a marathon first set for Dykema to get the early advantage. She stole the first 7-6 (8-6). Then in the second, she had to hold off Thorfinnson again in a 6-4 final.

“What Tia was able to do in that setting was one of the most impressive things I've seen in my time here,” Maddock said. “With the match at 3-3 and playing the top player in our section, she played with a lot of heart and had nerves of steel. Her teammates and coaches have a lot of confidence in her to come through in tough situations, and what she did yesterday just adds to that feeling.”

Dykema said the pressure of the moment and the prior losses to Thorfinnson and the Lakers just made her want to win more. Getting to state singles a year ago helped prepare her for this moment, but this was more important to her with a trip to state for this team on the line.

“There wasn’t really nerves just because I think not only me, but the rest of our team wanted to win so bad,” Dykema said. “I think it was just a want more than being nervous about it. It wasn’t just me who made this possible. This was the whole team, and I think that’s really, really cool.”

The whole matchup of the top-seeded Silverstreaks and second-seeded Minnewaska lived up to the hype. Osakis’ Shea Olson won at second singles and teammate Alexa Lien won 7-5, 6-3 at fourth singles. That secured three of the four spots in that lineup, with Minnewaska’s Karra Hanson edging Lauren Scherr at third singles, 6-4, 6-4.

The Lakers took two of three positions in doubles. Greta Reichmann and Anna Vold teamed up to win 6-3, 6-4 at the top spot, while Alyssa Thorfinnson and Camryn Mithun won a back-and-forth match with Osakis’ Camryn Hoffarth and Kiara Hensley 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4. The Silverstreaks’ win came from senior Dinara Dykema and eighth grader Mara VanNyhuis in straight sets at third doubles.

“The girls had good, focused efforts and didn't let the moment get too big for them,” Maddock said. “I thought we did a better job with our footwork and played smart matches. Even in the matches that went (Minnewaska’s) way, I thought the girls played extremely hard. All of the matches were highly competitive.”

That was a break from the norm for both these teams from earlier in the tournament. Osakis beat MACCRAY 7-0 in the opener and Montevideo by that same score in the semifinals. Minnewaska did the same, beating Morris Area and Lac qui Parle Valley 7-0.

Both teams knew things would be much tighter in the finals. The Lakers have owned the 6A field for a few years, but the Silverstreaks proved to have a little bit more this time around.

“You have to play your best to even have a chance at winning,” Maddock said of playing the Lakers. “They are always much improved by this time of the year compared to when we see them earlier, so getting by them is a huge hurdle for our girls.”

Osakis’ win puts the program back at the state tournament for the first time since 2013 and for the fifth time in the program’s history.

The Class A competition will take place at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in Minneapolis from Oct. 24-27. The Silverstreaks enter with a 20-2 overall record. Maddock believes in this team’s ability to win some matches there if the Silverstreaks can play their best tennis of the fall.

“Our approach will be to enjoy the experience and try to play up to our capabilities,” Maddock said. “If we do that, we should have a chance to be successful. It is a different level, so we will need to play our best to have a chance.”

SECTION 6A TOURNAMENTOSAKIS 4, MINNEWASKA 3SINGLES - No. 1 - Tia Dykema (O) def. Danielle Thorfinnson, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4; No. 2 - Shea Olson (O) def. Hannah Orlowski, 6-3, 6-0; No. 3 - Karra Hanson (M) def. Lauren Scherr, 6-4, 6-4; No. 4 - Alexa Lien (O) def. Maddi Thorfinnson, 7-5, 6-3DOUBLES - No. 1 - Greta Reichmann/Anna Vold (M) def. Kali Giesler/Karlee Hoffarth, 6-3, 6-4; No. 2 - Alyssa Thorfinnson/Camryn Mithun (M) def. Camryn Hoffarth/Kiara Hensley, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4; No. 3 - Dinara Dykema/Mara VanNyhuis (O) def. Madeline Reichmann/Annika Randt, 6-0, 6-4
Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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