by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River JV player Brooke Burns, pressed into varsity action in a key match against Andover, wound up scoring the decisive fourth point in a 4-3 victory at home Saturday.
The Elks also beat Hibbing and Forest Lake, each by 5-2. All three visiting teams are section rivals and the results will affect seeding for the playoffs. The Elks (13-2) wrapped up top seed for their half of the section.
The Elks and Huskies were tied 3-3 when Burns, a freshman, lost the second set to Kelleigh Meester, a junior, at No. 4 singles after winning the first.
With the rest of both teams watching and cheering, Burns regrouped to take the third set handily and win 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
“Brooke was totally relaxed,” said coach LeRoyce Chapman. “I didn’t tell her (the situation) but I knew she would figure it out on her own.”
Burns did figure it out. During a break with the coach, she understated, “Well, this certainly is a new experience!”
Chapman was impressed.
“That’s the sign of a real athlete. With the pressure on like that, she played some of her best tennis.”
Burns was in the varsity lineup because No. 2 singles Jen Koehler was sidelined by a stomach problem, although Koehler was able to return for third match of the day. Burns also won at No. 3 doubles with Erin Reiner in the Hibbing match, and didn’t play against Forest Lake.
In the Andover match, Michaela Schulz was beaten for the first time this season, by Andover’s Faith Lee 6-2, 6-2, at No. 1 singles. Two weeks earlier, Schulz had beaten Lee 6-1, 6-1, her first win over Lee after about 10 losses. The two longtime rivals, both seniors, will likely meet twice more in sectionals, in team and individual.
The other storyline for this day of important matches was Chapman’s decision to shake up the singles lineup, a move that worked out well.
Moving Alyssa Karavitch from 3-singles to 1-doubles for the Andover match, and putting Koehler at 1-doubles rather than her usual 2-singles slot against Forest Lake, helped the Elks take two of three doubles points in each. And against Hibbing, she split up Reiner and Rebecca Lieser, who’ve been struggling at No. 3, giving them different partners, and both won, Reiner with Burns, and Lieser with Kathi Opsahl.
“We wanted to spread out the talent, because doubles has not been clicking,” said Chapman, adding that she bounced the ideas off others including boys coach Randy Ronning for some feedback before proceeding.
“The girls enjoyed (having different partners). It was an exciting day. We did well, especially missing our No. 2 singles player in two of the matches.”
The Elks have a huge conference match Tuesday against Centennial. The Cougars are 8-0 and the Elks 7-1 in conference.
Elk River 5, Hibbing 2
(1) Michaela Schulz, ER, def Mikaea Kraavitch 6-2, 6-2
(2) Tina Matetich Hib, def Alyssa Karavitch 6-1, 6-1
(3) Emily Milani, Hib, def Annika Teska 6-0, 6-0
(4) Lauren Brayden, ER, def Kayle Maseni 6-1, 6-3
(1) Becca O’Connell-Hadley Purdy, ER, def Nicole Blagoue-Janell Shea 7-5, 2-6, 6-4
(2) Rebecca Lieser-Kathi Opsdahl, ER, def Emily Warner-Megan Hodge 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
(3) Erin Reiner-Brooke Burns, ER, def Raini Haybloom-name not available 6-2, 6-2
Elk River 4, Andover 3
(1) Faith Lee, And, def Michaela Schulz 6-2, 6-2
(2) Destina Lee, And, def Annika Teske 6-1, 6-1
(3) Lauren Brayden, ER, def Meghan Strauss 6-0, 6-3
(4) Brooke Burns, ER, d ef Kelleigh Meester 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
(1) Becca O’Connell-Alyssa Karavitch, ER, def Amanda Weiss-Ali May Kuebelbeck 6-3, 6-4
(2) Hadley Purdy-Kathi Opsahl, ER, def Grace Bergquit-Kiersten Meester 6-3, 6-0
(3) Hannah Fenwick-Amanda Hastad, And, def Rebecca Lieser-Erin Reiner 6-4, 6-2
Elk River 5, Forest Lake 2
(1) Michala Schulz, ER, def Taylor Shortly 6-1, 6-2
(2) Chase Shortley, FL, def Hadley Purdey 6-3, 6-1
(3) Alyssa Karavitch, ER, def Taylor Angelo 6-3, 6-0
(4) Annika Teske, ER, def Noel Vierra 6-3, 6-0
(1) Becca O’Connell-Jen Koehler, ER, def Bailey Norby-Emily Reirmann 5-7, 6-0, 6-3
(2) Kathi Opsahl-Lauren Brayden, ER, def Megan Anderson-Lindsey Tilton 7-5, 1-6, 11-9
(3) Natalie Wright-Talor Emily, FL, def Rebecca Lieser-Erin Reiner 6-1, 6-0