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Girls tennis: Streaks down Lakers in 6A title rematch

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Kennedy George returns the ball over the net to Annika Randt in the No. 3 singles match on Friday afternoon. Geroge's 7-6 (7-0), 2-6, 6-4 win helped push Osakis to a 6-1 team-win over Minnewaska. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Friday afternoon's girls tennis matchup between Osakis and Minnewaska is one that both teams have circled on their calendars before the season starts. Two great programs go at it in what often proves to be a Section 6A championship preview. This time around, Osakis got the upper hand.

The Silverstreaks beat the Lakers 6-1 while sweeping all four singles matches. It's a win that showed Osakis head coach Ryan Maddock a lot about his team.

"I think people are starting to see how big of a matchup this is for both teams," Maddock said. "This is the biggest crowd we've ever had at a tennis match. It was stunning. When you throw some kids out there who might not be used to that, it's a little nerve-racking, but I was really impressed with the girls today. It was a fun day when things haven't been so fun in a while."

Tia Dykema, Mara VanNyhuis and Larissa Hoffarth won their singles matches in two sets. The Silverstreaks proved to have more depth on their roster this go around.

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Leah Hagen jumps to send the ball over the net in her No. 4 singles match against Larissa Hoffarth during Minnewaska's 6-1 loss to Osakis. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

"We have 15 girls that competed here today, and there aren't that many spots on the roster," Maddock said. "It's nice when we win 7-0 or 6-1, but you only need four. I think the girls play loose because it's not all on one kid. I think some of that has to do with us having so many good players."

The matchup of the night was at No. 3 singles between Osakis' Kennedy George and Minnewaska's Annika Randt. George won the first set 7-6 (7-0) but dropped the second 2-6. In the third set, George came back to win 6-4 and take home the victory.

"My second set I was down 4-0," George said. "I said to myself, 'If she wins the next two, I'm going to lose.' I tried to take it point-by-point and keep my head in it. Maybe those points turn into a game and then into a set. So if I just take it one point at a time, I feel better."

George's resilience impressed her coaches. The junior is one of several leaders the Silverstreaks have with the ability to fight back.

"I was really proud of Kennedy's efforts today," Maddock said. "To come back from down 1-4 in the third set after losing the second set to win the last five games was a special moment for her. We were just talking today about never giving up and how in tennis you can't run out the clock or take a knee, so there is always hope if you keep trying. To see her put that in action today was great to see. She is a mentally tough player."

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Larissa Hoffarth returns a serve in the No. 4 singles match against Leah Hagen on Friday afternoon during Osakis' 6-1 win over Minnewaska. Hoffard defeated Hagen 6-0, 6-1. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

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Minnewaska's lone win came in the No. 1 doubles match when Maddie Thorfinnson and Olivia Richards defeated Sydney Rach and Kadyn Triebenbach 6-0, 6-2. It was one of the positive outcomes that came out of Friday for head coach Tara Reichmann.

"We gained great experience today and worked hard," Reichmann said. "Our team has had big shoes to fill this year after losing five valuable seniors, and we are still trying to figure out who fits where the best. We are making strides, and any experience and competition we have is a learning and growing experience. We are just happy to have the opportunity to play tennis this year."

There's an added level of excitement when these two teams get together, and the players feel that throughout the week leading up to the match.

"There is a healthy rivalry between Osakis and Minnewaska as the two teams have battled back and forth for the section championship for many years," Reichmann said. "I am originally from Osakis and have a lot of respect for their program, coaches and players. I know a lot of the kids and their parents. Overall, I think it is two great teams each year playing their hearts out to be champions and representing good sportsmanship."

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Annika Randt returns a shot to Kennedy George in the No. 3 singles match on Friday afternoon during Minnewaska's 6-1 loss to Osakis. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

The Silverstreaks remembered the feeling of losing in last year's section title and used it as motivation this time around.

"Before the match, it was all I could think about," George said. "There are a lot of juniors and seniors on this team that was there last year and felt that. We always want to beat them, and they want to beat us. It's fun to come out here and play a good team. Montevideo was another good team we played, and I think it only makes us better."

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OSAKIS 6, MINNEWASKA 1

SINGLES- No. 1 Tia Dykema (O) def. Alissa Thorfinnson 6-0, 6-1; No. 2 Mara VanNyhuis (O) def. Addy Randt 6-2, 6-1; No. 3 Kennedy George (O) def. Annika Randt 7-6 (7-0), 2-6, 6-4; No. 4 Larissa Hoffarth (O) def. Leah Hagen 6-0, 6-1; Exhibition- Leah Maddock (O) def. Megan Thorfinnson 6-2, 6-1; DOUBLES- No. 1 Maddie Thorfinnson-Olivia Richards (M) def. Sydney Rach-Kadyn Triebenbach 6-0, 6-2; No. 2 Ellie Geroge-Brittany Dietrich (O) def. Grace Jensen-Zoey Elwood 6-0, 6-1; No. 3 Lexi Spychalla-Helena Zajac (O) def. Olivia Bleick-Ally Mogard 6-2, 6-1; Exhibition Makenzie Lien-Tessa Stanek (O) def. Sydney Dahl-Alia Randt 6-2; Jaden Hensley-Hattie Schmidtbauer (O) def. Sydney Dahl-Alia Randt 6-4

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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