The Minnewaska girl's tennis team waited two years for the moment it had on Tuesday.
The Lakers beat the Osakis Silverstreaks 5-2 in the Section 6A championship match in Fargo to punch their ticket to the state tournament. After falling to Osakis in close matches the previous two seasons, Minnewaska finally got to breathe a sigh of relief.
"This is really special because we have a lot of seniors that have dedicated a lot of time to tennis," Minnewaska head coach Tara Reichmann said. "A few of them have never been to the state tournament as a team before. It's a new experience for our players. They needed to overcome the past couple of years and realize that they're capable of making it to state."
The Lakers beat Lac qui Parle Valley 7-0 in the semifinal round before their meeting with the Silverstreaks. Osakis swept Montevideo 7-0 to set up the championship match.
"I thought in the semis, the girls played very strong," Osakis head coach Ryan Maddock said. “Montevideo is a team that's on the rise with some great young players, and our girls took care of business. You lose that one, and you don't even get to the finals. Our girls showed great focus."
Minnewaska won four of the first five matches to lock up a section title. It was a day for the seniors who had been through the hardships of losing at that moment twice before.
"I think it motivated them," Reichmann said. "A majority of our seniors played on those lineups that lost those matches. They were excited. They wanted to get the defined win, so it didn't come down to the wire."
Osakis didn't have enough to match the power that Minnewaska brought to the top of its lineup.
"They have a lot of senior leadership and high-end talent that has been around for a long time," Maddock said. "They had some edge to them too. The last two years, we had beaten them in tight 4-3 matches. You could see it in those kids today. There was nothing wrong with the effort or the play from our girls. They played a team that wasn't going to be denied this year."
Reichmann and Maddock have a good working relationship, with Reichmann also having a history with the Silverstreaks as a native of Osakis. Their mutual respect for each other and their programs makes these meeting bittersweet.
"Osakis and Minnewaska always have great matches against each other," Reichmann said. "I'd like to think they're two well-coached teams with good kids that show great sportsmanship. Unfortunately, somebody has to lose."
For Reichmann, this win hits a little closer to home.
"It's always interesting to coach against your hometown," Reichmann said. "I know some of the kids and their parents. My dad used to be the head tennis coach for 20 years before Ryan came in. There's a lot of history there.”
The Silverstreaks didn't have the ending to the season that they hoped for. However, the future is bright in Osakis, with a young core coming back in 2020.
"We had high expectations, but to some degree, we felt like this was also a building year," Maddock said. "We had some new girls in new spots. We had a lot of girls to try out. This year was our hardest schedule that we've ever had, which we were excited about. We accomplished a lot of the goals we had set out for us this year. We would've liked to get this one today, but it didn't work out."
Two seniors played their final match for Osakis on Tuesday. Not only were they part of multiple section championship teams, but they also helped shape the program into what it is today.
"Camryn (Hoffarth) and Alexa (Lien) were big pieces to the state tournament teams over the years," Maddock said. "Along with being good players, they're also good people. Those are the kind of girls we like to have in this program."
MINNEWASKA 5, OSAKIS 2
SINGLES- No. 1 Danielle Thorfinnson (M) def. Tia Dykema 6-1, 6-1; No. 2 Mara VanNyhuis (O) def. Alyssa Thorfinnson 7-5, 6-1; No. 3 Kara Hanson (M) def. Camryn Hoffarth 6-2, 6-0; No. 4- Addy Randt (M) def. Alexa Lien 7-, 6-4;
DOUBLES- No. 1 Greta Reichmann-Annika Randt (M) def. Kennedy George-Larissa Hoffarth 6-1, 6-1; No. 2 Maddie Thorfinnson-Olivia Richards (M) def. Kadyn Triebenbach -Sydney Rach 6-3, 6-0; No. 3 Ellie George-Brittany Deitrich (O) def. Leah Hagen-Maddi Kluver 7-5, 4-6, 7-6