Tennis: Alexandria earns 6-1 win in regular season home finale
The Cardinals earned a key win on senior night over Fergus Falls. The Cardinals end the regular season on Sept. 29 at Sartell-St. Stephen.
ALEXANDRIA - The Alexandria girls tennis team finished the home portion of its season strong with a 6-1 win over the Fergus Falls Otters on senior night.
“Any time you can get a 6-1 win over a conference and section opponent, you’ll take it,” Alexandria head coach Nick Jansen said. “We’ve been struggling to close matches, but I thought we did that well this time.”
The Cardinals swept the four singles matches and won two of the three doubles matches.
Junior Marisa Rousu earned a sweep at No. 1 singles (6-2, 7-5), as did senior Rachel Wegner at No. 2 singles (6-4, 6-2) and junior Kylie Lattimer did at No. 3 singles (6-3, 6-0).
Senior Teresa Bitzan lost the first set of her match (2-6) against Ashtyn Lill, but rallied to win sets two (6-4) and three (6-2).
“Winning a match like that takes a lot of patience,” Bitzan said. “You have to just play each point out. You’re not just thinking about the final product; you’re thinking about playing each point.”
Alexandria had two three-set wins on the night as the team of junior Ayla Rolin and Sophomore Morgan Aure came from behind to win their match as well.
“We played well as a team,” Rolin said. “When we got stressed, we just looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s take a deep breath and relax.’’’
Rolin and Aure lost the first set 4-6 but won set two 6-3 and set three 6-0.
“It felt pretty nice to earn that win, especially winning our last set 6-0,” Aure said.
Jansen said that three-set matches are nothing new to the team this season.
“We've played in a lot of three-set matches, and I think focusing on the little things is what they (Bitzan, Aure and Rolin) did right,” he said. “They just went to their strengths and I think they found that extra little bit that they needed to compete and win.”
Rounding out the wins for the Cardinals, the team of sophomores Katelyn Thiery and Faith Odland earned a sweep at No. 3 doubles (6-2, 6-1).
Fergus Falls' lone win came at No. 1 doubles with Cyntreya Lockett and Karley Braeger defeating Alexandria senior Chelby Runge and Jalyn Halverson in three sets.
“We've done a lot of different things in doubles,” Jansen said. “We're finding some teams that are pairing well together. I think it’s kind of an art form (pairing teams). I think we still can make some progress in that regard on Thursday and into next week.”
With this win, Alexandria now has a record of 11-9 this season.
“I thought it was really good to finish our last match at home because it's like going out with a bang,” Rousu said. “It was our senior night, so we were just all really hyped up. And I thought it was awesome that we got to end the night with a win.”
The Cardinals wrap up their regular season with a match on the road at Sartell-St. Stephen at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Cardinals beat the Sabres 4-3 with a clutch performance at home on Sept. 6.
From Oct. 4-6, the Cardinals will be competing in the Subsection 8AA North Tournament (team and individual) in Fargo, North Dakota.
“I would say somewhere in the middle of the pack, depending on how some other teams finish out,” Jansen said of the Cardinals' expected place in the field. “I think any team in our subsection is beatable, but also any team can beat us. I think it’ll be a matter of seeding and who shows up to play next week. I think anybody has a good shot at winning it.”
Jansen said the winners at the subsection tournament, and in the postseason in general, will likely be decided by who can win close matches.
“I think it comes down to competing, finding a way to take that pressure on in close matches and being able to rise to the occasion,” he said. “Our team has battled that all year and we've grown a lot in that regard. I think sections will really tell us if that process has paid off.”
The Section 8AA Tournament is set for Oct. 14 and 15 in Sartell.
“I feel like we're pretty confident, and I feel like we have a good team spirit,” Bitzan said. “We all push each other to get better.”
As the regular season comes to a close, the Cardinals postmatch huddles appeared to be centered on finishing points.
“We're talking a lot about that as a team, not just seven or eight players but all 10,” Jansen said. “some of us made that jump, but we need to continue to work as a team so that we're all making that next jump together.”
Rousu is confident in the team’s depth and said they compete “super close” with one another in practice.
“I think that gives us a boost of confidence that we can play right up with any of those teams that are going to be at subsections next week,” Rousu said.
Jansen is excited about this team’s postseason opportunity.
“I just think there’s a reward of going and playing indoors together as a team and getting to spend a couple of days out of school bonding,” he said. “That's a great reward for all the hard work that kids have put in. And playoff tennis, there's nothing like it; it’s super exciting. Win or lose, everybody brings their best. That's what we love to do.”
Alexandria 6, Fergus Falls 1
SINGLES - No. 1 - Marisa Rousu, (A) def. Isabella Abrahams, (FF), 6-2, 7-5; No. 2 - Rachel Wegner, (A) def. Leila Nasri, (FF), 6-4 , 6-2; No. 3 - Kylie Lattimer, (A) def. Ruby Ellison, (FF), 6-3 , 6-0; No. 4 - Teresa Bitzan, (A) def. Ashtyn Lill, (FF), 2-6 , 6-4 , 6-2
DOUBLES - No. 1 - Cyntreya Lockett/Karley Braeger, (FF) def. Jalyn Halverson/Chelby Runge, (A), 4-6, 6-1, 6-3; No. 2 - Ayla Rolin/ Morgan Aure, (A) def. Hattie Fullhart/Keziah Hartwell, (FF), 4-6 , 6-3 , 6-0; No. 3 - Katelyn Thiery/Faith Odland, (A) def. Clara Stephan/Hannah Anderson, (FF), 6-2, 6-1