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Osakis' win over Minnewaska continues recent stretch of solid play as Silverstreaks eye another deep run in remade Section 6A field

The Silverstreaks win their 10th match in the last 11 as they start to eye a postseason tournament that will now feature third-ranked Litchfield in the Section 6 field.

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Osakis senior Lexi Spychalla got a 6-1, 6-4 win at fourth singles against Minnewaska on Sept. 16, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

The regular-season matchup between the Osakis and Minnewaska girls tennis programs has been a Section 6A tournament preview in recent years.

There are no guarantees of that this season with a revamped section that now includes two good programs in Litchfield and New London-Spicer. But both Osakis and Minnewaska figure to be competitive again near the end of the season as the Silverstreaks continued their recent stretch of good play by getting a 5-2 win over the Lakers on Thursday.

“I feel like we’re good enough to always have a chance,” Osakis head coach Ryan Maddock said of matching up in the 9-team section field. “I really like our lineup. Some days certain kids win, some days they don’t, but we don’t feel like there’s a weak spot. We potentially always have a chance everywhere. You’re not going to get every point, but Mara (VanNyhuis) doesn’t have to win for us to be successful as a team, and she wins plenty.”

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Osakis senior Mara VanNyhuis serves in her first singles match against Minnewaska's Alissa Thorfinnson on Sept. 16, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

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VanNyhuis has anchored the No. 1 singles spot for Osakis this season after the graduation of perhaps the top player in program history in Tia Dykema last year. VanNyhuis has proven to be competitive in that No. 1 singles spot as she locked up in a tight two-setter with Minnewaska senior Alissa Thorfinnson on Thursday in a match Thorfinnson won 6-4, 7-5.

“I have 14 girls here today, and we have some at home who are probably ready to be varsity players,” Maddock said. “Even though we graduated six last year, there are kids ready to step in. Now, graduating Tia was a different story, but Mara has been a No. 1-level player. That’s what made us so tough last year was basically having two number ones.”

The Silverstreaks won the first four matches on Thursday to secure the win without having to sweat out three close matches at the end. Eighth-grader Leah Maddock, junior Larissa Hoffarth and senior Lexi Spychalla all won in singles.

Seniors Makenzie Lien and Tessa Stanek added a straight-set win at No. 2 doubles, and sophomores Bria Hoffarth and Madeline Anderson did the same at the third doubles spot.

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Osakis senior Makenzie Lien returns a shot at second doubles against Minnewaska on Sept. 16, 2021. Lien and fellow senior Tessa Stanek teamed up to get a straight-set win at that spot in the Silverstreaks' 5-2 team win over the Lakers. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

“We play really well as a team,” Spychalla said. “We’re just super close, and those relationships, I feel like that can really get us up to the level that we’re striving to be this season. The work we put into practice is showing coming into these close matches.”

Osakis started its season with a quad at Pequot Lakes where the Silverstreaks went 1-2.

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“Some of it was pretty tough competition (early) with Pequot and Thief River Falls,” coach Maddock said. “But these are just good kids. They’re great kids to work with. They work hard. They’re fighters. I would say that’s the big thing. We’ve done a good job of not getting shook.”

Osakis is now 11-3, while the Lakers fell to 6-5 after the loss. The Silverstreaks are 10-1 in their last 11 matches, with the only loss in there coming in a 4-3 final against sixth-ranked Crookston.

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Osakis sophomores Madeline Anderson, left, and Bria Hoffarth walk off the court after their straight-set win at third doubles at Minnewaska on Sept. 16, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

“I feel like we’ve been growing every single day,” Spychalla said. “We still like to have fun and laugh and spend time together, but when it really comes down to it, we put the work in.”

Osakis finished with a perfect record in 2020 that was capped off with a Section 6A championship win over Minnewaska in the shortened season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ultimate goal stays pretty much the same for the Silverstreaks.

“The goal again is to win our section,” Spychalla said. “But if that doesn’t happen, as long as we put our best effort in, that’s all we can really do.”

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Minnewaska senior Alissa Thorfinnson goes to her backhand to make a return in her first singles win against Osakis' Mara VanNyhuis on Sept. 16, 2021. (Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press)

Maddock knows his athletes will have no problem putting forth that effort. He called a potential semifinals in a competitive Section 6A field similar to a mini state tournament. Third-ranked Litchfield is likely the favorite, but the Silverstreaks hope to keep pushing themselves to be playing their best tennis at that time of year.

“It’s definitely going to be tough, but also the victories we’ve earned since beating Minnewaska in the section tournament last year, we believe we can still pull that off,” Spychalla said. “We’re just working really hard. Not everything is handed to us, but the more and more we believe and just work hard, we can get to that level and be close in all those matches with Litchfield, New London and Minnewaska.”

OSAKIS 5, MINNEWASKA 2

SINGLES - No. 1 - Alissa Thorfinnson (M) def. Mara VanNyhuis, 6-4, 7-5; No. 2 - Leah Maddock (O) def. Addy Randt, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3); No. 3 - Larissa Hoffarth (O) def. Leah Hagen, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2; No. 4 - Lexi Spychalla (O) def. Avarie Uhde, 6-1, 6-4

DOUBLES - No. 1 - Maddie Thorfinnson/Olivia Richards (M) def. Kennedy George/Ellie George, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1; No. 2 - Makenzie Lien/Tessa Stanek (O) def. Sydney Dahl/Megan Thorfinnson, 6-2, 6-2; No. 3 - Bria Hoffarth/Madeline Anderson (O) def. Alia Randt/Grace Jensen, 6-2, 6-1; Exhibition - Hatti Schmidtbauer/Madi Collins (O) def. Katy Vold/Brianna Erickson, 9-7

Related Topics: TENNISOSAKIS SILVERSTREAKS
Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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