by Eric Oslund
Six girls from the Elk River tennis team took to their home courts on Tuesday, Oct. 10, to compete in the individuals south portion of the Section 7AA tournament.
Eighth grader Emma Anderson was one of the Elks’ two singles players and she had the challenge of going up against Andover’s No. 1 singles player, senior Marice Chock – who had been awarded the No. 7 seed in the tournament.
Things started out well for Anderson, as she pushed the first to 4-3, only slightly trailing her opponent. After that point, though, things took a downward turn as Chock would go on to win that first-round match 6-3 and 6-2.
“Chock’s experience, she’s been playing No. 1 for three or four years, kicked in… very respectable for (Anderson),” Elk River head coach Randy Ronning said. “I thought she had a good day.”
The Elks had two doubles pairings, Carmen Kaelke/Riley Mathis and Paige Anderson/Dee Dokken.
Kaelke and Mathis were not rewarded a seed in the section tournament, but looked great to start the first round, defeating the No. 5 team of Greta and Hannah Gillach 6-0 in the first set. The rest of their first-round bout would go a little differently, though, as the Gillachs would go on to win 6-1 in the second and third sets, taking the match 2-1.
“To beat them 6-0, that frankly surprised me,” Ronning began. “They dropped a little and the Gillachs picked it up. It’s amazing how in tennis it’s really only a difference of a few shots. Even a 6-0 can be a fairly close set.”
The Elks other pairing of Paige Anderson and Dokken would have a little more success in their portion of the doubles bracket. They were rewarded the No. 3 seed and took their first match of the day 2-0, winning both sets by a score of 6-0.
They would then take on another unseeded team in the second round after the Andover pairing of Madeline Munsterman and Morgan Leslie were able to record an upset in their first match. It wouldn’t matter much, though, as Paige Anderson and Dokken would once again win the match 2-0, taking their sets 7-5 and 6-2.
But then they had to face the No. 2 seed in the tournament, Anna and Gabby Dahlen from Princeton, to see who would represent in the final four.
“When we saw the draw, we thought if they played well they’d get to play Dahlens in the semis and Dahlens just played great,” Ronning said after their match. “They played as good as they could, I thought, and we played OK, but it wasn’t good enough.”
The Dahlens defeated the No. 3 seeded team from Elk River in two sets, 6-3 and 6-1. And since both teams are filled with players coming back next season, it’s very possible they will end up meeting in the section tournament again next season.
The final Elk to compete in the individuals portion of the section tournament was Meagan Brown. She has been the Elks’ top singles player all season long, and was awarded the No. 1 seed in singles play for this tournament, and the results looked much the same as they have all season.
She won her first 2-0 (6-0, 6-0), and then took her second set 2-0 (6-2, 6-0). She only needed one more win at that point to advance to the final four, and she was paired against Shelby Parent of Cambridge-Isanti – the No. 4 seed of the tournament. She’s a very good player in her own right, but just not on the same level as Brown, as the Elk was able to win the match 2-0 (6-3, 6-0) and advance to the final four with relative ease.
Brown improved to 32-1 on the season after Tuesday, with her only loss coming in the first match of the year.
“She’s living up to everything we knew she could be,” Ronning said of his No. 1 singles player. “Today, the girls that played her were happy to play her. She had nothing to gain, really. The other people that played her thought it was an opportunity to play someone that’s going to be famous, or is famous, and, still, she only lost five games all day. I thought she did great.”
The final four match up consists of Brown, Aurora Schossow of Princeton, Aili Hietala of Duluth East, and Lauren Aturaliya of Duluth East. They will compete against one another on Monday, Oct. 16, for the chance to represent their schools in the 2017 state tournament.