by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
It was up to Michaela Schulz as the Elk River tennis team tried to stay in contention in the NWSC race Wednesday.
The senior ace’s 181st varsity win was one of her biggest.
Schulz, unbeaten at No. 1 singles, is usually one of the first players done, but at Blaine, she was the last Elk on the court, and the outcome of her duel with Mary Swanson would decide which team won. The Elks took the other three singles, and Blaine had swept the doubles.
With everyone else watching, Schulz and fellow senior Swanson slugged it out in the third set. Swanson built a 4-1 lead. But Schulz stormed back, pulling out a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory over a player ranked No. 6 in the most recent coaches association rankings.
“It was cold and windy, and Michaela, I think, tightened up,” said coach LeRoyce Chapman, “but she got warmed up, and she wanted it badly enough, and she came back and won.”
The 4-3 victory kept the Elks a game behind in the NWSC with two conference matches left. On Tuesday they will host defending champ Centennial, the last unbeaten in conference play. The Elks will finish conference next Thursday against Osseo.
Before that, the Elks (11-2 overall) will host section rivals Andover, Hibbing and Forest Lake on Saturday, beginning 9 a.m., matches that will help determine section seedings. That quadrangular will presumably include a rematch with Schulz and Andover’s highly-ranked Faith Lee. Schulz beat Lee (for the first time in 10 tries) on Sept. 13 when the Elks handed the Huskies their first NWSC loss 5-2.
The Elks had quick wins in they other singles slots from freshman Jen Koehler, eight-grader Alyssa Karavitch and freshman Annika Teske.
Blaine (4-3 in conference), which has never beaten the Elks in NWSC play, won three very close doubles matches.
Elk River 4, Blaine 3
(1) Michaela Schulz, ER, def Mary Swanson 6-4, 3-6, 7-5
(2) Jen Koehler, ER, def Jennifer Flores 6-1, 6-2
(3) Alyssa Karavitch, ER, def Erica Johnson 6-0, 6-0
(4) Annika Teske, ER, def Abby Merck 6-0, 6-0
(1) Lauren Anderson-Sarah Ponto, Bln, def Hadley Purdy-Becca O’Connell 6-1, 7-6, 7-5
(2) Rachel Plankers-Sarah Plankers, Bln, def Lauren Brayden-Kathi Opsahl 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
(3) Emily Blaker-Emma Christensen Bln, def Erin Reiner-Rebecca Lieser 7-5, 6-4