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Snell, Wheeler, Sjostrand power toward sections

Alexandria senior Carly Snell serves during a match against Brainerd in the regular-season finale on Tuesday, October 1 at the DMS courts. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

Alexandria’s Carly Snell, Marissa Wheeler and Rachel Sjostrand took away some of the sting for the Cardinal tennis team this past weekend as they made an impressive run through the singles and doubles tournaments to advance to the section tournament.

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The Cardinals saw the team portion of their season come to an end on Friday after a 5-2 loss to Bemidji after they had taken care of Moorhead 6-1 in the opening round. Snell bounced back in the individual tournament and ran through the field as a sixth seed to finish as the runner-up in the subsection. Sjostrand and Wheeler will join her at the section meet in Sartell this Saturday after taking third in the doubles tournament.

“It was a fairytale type of a day for our second singles player,” head coach Dave Ronning said of Snell. “She went out and executed every game plan we incorporated. She frustrated her opponents with consistency and movement and never let her first three opponents get any kind of rhythm going in their favor.”

Snell’s only loss came to Brainerd’s top singles player Sara Wennerstrand in the title match. The Alexandria senior played some of her best tennis up to that point. She took down Thief River Falls’ Karlee Jorgenson 6-4, 6-4 in the third round after beating Claudia Bellew of Bemidji 6-3, 6-0 and Emma Bjerklie of Moorhead in the opening rounds.

“Carly kept her unforced errors at a minimum and forced her opponents to try to make shots they were incapable of,” Ronning said. “In the championship match, she was overpowered by first-seeded Sara Wennerstrand from Brainerd but Carly did not give in to her. She fought hard, and although the score doesn’t really show it, she had a very good match with her and made Sara earn everything she got.”

Sjostrand and Wheeler were equally as impressive in taking three of their four matches in the doubles lineup. They took down the top-seeded duo of Annika Johnson and Olivia Dickinson of Bemidji 6-4, 7-5 in the third-place match after losing to them 6-0, 6-0 just a day earlier in the team competition.

“It was a different story this time around as our girls started strong and were very aggressive in every facet of the game by attacking the net and putting the opponents on their heels again and again,” Ronning said. “At one point, we fell behind 4-5, but they pulled it together and rattled off three straight games to get the third-place win.”

Ellie Bergstrand also competed in the singles tournament. She won her first-round match 6-0, 6-0 against Emma Maguire of Detroit Lakes before falling to Moorhead’s Anna Steinwand in three sets in the second round. Kim and Kerri Wilkins competed in the doubles tournament and fell 6-0, 6-2 in their first-round match against the eventual subsection champions from Brainerd.

The Cardinals used a sweep of the doubles lineup and three wins in singles to secure their team win over fifth-seeded Moorhead last Friday. They then ran into top-seeded Bemidji and couldn’t overcome a tough Lumberjacks team.

“Bemidji is a very solid team from top to bottom and we knew we were going to have to play our best tennis of the season if we were to have any hopes of moving onto the section tourney,” Ronning said. “The girls gave Bemidji a big scare losing 2-5. This match could have gone either way.”

Bergstrand got one of two wins in the singles lineup for Alexandria as she won at the first spot 7-6 (7), 6-1. Kim Snell added the other one at fourth singles as she beat Sarah McNallan 6-4, 6-3. The Cardinals kept it close at second singles and second and third doubles, but couldn’t quite get over the hump.

“Although none of those matches went our way, it could have easily have been us celebrating a sub-section title instead of Bemidji,” Ronning said. “I really thought we were going to pull it out. Things were lining up nicely and the girls were playing with renewed energy and passion, but my hat is off to the Lumberjacks for showing patience and not folding under the pressure.”

Alexandria ended the team portion of the schedule with a 17-8 record. Wheeler, Sjostrand and Snell will now refocus as they try to extend their seasons to the state tournament.



Bemidji 5, Alexandria 2

SINGLES – No. 1 – Bergstrand (A) def. Claudia Bellew, 7-6 (7), 6-1; 2. Alexis Konecne (B) def. Snell, 6-4, 6-4; No. 3 – Abbie Kelm (B) def. Bria Schueler, 6-2, 6-2; No. 4 – Kim Snell (A) def. McNallan, 6-4, 6-3

DOUBLES – Olivia Dickinson/Annika Johnson (B) def. Wheeler/Sjostrand, 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 - Mackenzie Schultz/Jenna Lee (B) def. Wilkins/Wilkins, 7-6 (3), 6-2; No. 3 – Nicolette Roy/Kayla Snell (B) def. Hannah Vickstrom/Abby Telander, 6-4, 6-4

Alexandria 6, Moorhead 1

SINGLES – No. 1 – Bergstrand (A) def. Anna Steinwand, 6-2, 6-1; No. 2 – Snell (A) def. Emma Bjerklie, 6-1, 6-3; No. 3 – Schueler (A) def. Maddie Mueller, 6-3, 6-1; No. 4 – Mallory Smith (M) def. K. Snell, 6-4, 6-4

DOUBLES – No. 1 – Sjostrand/Wheeler (A) def. Ally Grimley/Brianna Storms, 6-0, 6-4; No. 2 – Wilkins/Wilkins (A) def. Hannah Wold/Maren Tollefson, 6-3, 6-4; No. 3 – Vickstrom/Telander (A) def. Annie Wilkie/Becky Wilke, 6-0, 6-2


SINGLES – First round – Bergstrand (A) def. Emma Maguire (DL), 6-0, 6-0; C. Snell (A) def. Emma Bjerklie (M), 6-3, 6-1; Second round – Anna Steinwand (M) def. Bergstrand, 6-4, 6-7 (7), 6-4; Snell def. Claudia Bellew (BEM), 6-3, 6-0; Third round – Snell def. Karlee Jorgenson (TRF), 6-4, 6-4; Championship – Sara Wennerstrand (BR) def. Snell, 6-1, 6-0

DOUBLES – Mimmack/Fitterer (BR) def. Wilkins/Wilkins (A), 6-0, 6-2; Wheeler/Sjostrand (A) def. Clark/Neuleib (FF), 6-0, 6-1; Second round – Wheeler/Sjostrand (A) def. Lee/Kelm (BEM), 6-3, 6-3; Third round – Mimmack/Fitterer (BR) def. Wheeler/Sjostrand, 6-0, 6-2; Third-place – Wheeler/Sjostrand (A ) def. Johnson/Dickinson (BEM), 6-4, 7-5

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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