by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River’s No. 1 doubles team delivered a hard-fought point and probably the biggest laugh of the season Wednesday in a 6-1 victory over Champlin Park.
During the second set, Hadley Purdy had a chance for an overhand smash right at the net on a very high looping return by the Rebels. Hadley took a herculean swing — and hit nothing but air, spinning like Babe Ruth on a strikeout.
But she only had a split second to feel sheepish, because she saw the ball drop and bounce back up, a couple feet away. Getting a very rare second chance to make the same return shot, she played it cautious this time and tapped it over the net into an open spot to win the volley.
Hadley and partner Becca O’Connell needed about 30 seconds to stop laughing before they could proceed. Their Rebel opponents got a chuckle out of it, too.
“I thought she had hit it the first time,” said O’Connell. “When she swung again, I thought, ‘What are you doing!’ Then I saw she hit it (the second time).”
“I like to hit overhead smashes. Not like that, though,” said Purdy. “That was complete luck!”
Said O’Connell: “If somebody had it on video, that would be awesome!”
Hadley and Purdy wound up losing that second set anyway but prevailed 6-4, 2-6, 10-5 over Emily Sjostrom and Jessica Kelley.
The Elks improved to 6-0 in the NWSC and 8-2 overall.
The doubles lineup is anchored by senior co-captains Purdy and O’Connell, who’ve played most of their varsity matches together since ninth grade, at No. 3, No. 2, then No. 1 the last two years.
The singles lineup is headed by eighth-grader Meagan Brown, a newcomer in the Elk program after years of strong USTA age-group play.
“I think the season is going fantastic,” said Purdy. “Meagan Brown has been a big addition. She really helps us a lot. Everybody put in a lot of time over the summer, and it shows from one-singles through three-doubles.”
“We have a pretty young team,” said O’Connell, “and our young players have a lot of potential. They are fun to watch and they enjoy tennis so much.”
The Elks have four conference duals left, including one at Andover on Thursday, which will be their third one in three days.
Elk River 6, Champlin Park 1
(1) Meagan Brown, ER, def Shannon Yurick 6-2, 6-1
(2) Annika Teske, ER, def Liz Lindgren 6-0, 6-0
(3) Jen Koehler, ER, def Diana Glebova 6-1, 6-1
(4) Lauren Brayden, ER, def Anne Bundy 6-2, 6-2
(1) Hadley Purdy-Becca O’Connell, ER, def Emily Sjostrom-Jessica Kelley 6-4, 2-6, 10-5
(2) Emma Hannegraaf-Erin Reiner, ER, def Sam Conzet-Danielle Wolf 7-5, 6-2
(3) Michaela Larsen-Nicole Dockendorf, CP, def Brooke Burns-Danielle Dokken 4-6, 6-4 12-10