Aug. 31—BEMIDJI — A sour taste lingered in the mouths of the Bemidji High School girls tennis players on Thursday.
In the Lumberjacks’ final match before Labor Day, undefeated Staples-Motley snagged a pair of three-set victories that prevented the Jacks from making a comeback at the BHS tennis courts.
“Hats off to Staples-Motley,” Fodness said of the Cardinals’ 4-3 win. “They have a really good team. It was a good opportunity for us today to show that we could adjust to a couple of things. It was the last match in a long week, and we had a few girls playing in a few different spots. I thought the girls did a really good job playing against a really good team.
“We’ve been on the right side of a lot of those 4-3 matches. We’ve been on the wrong side of a couple that we thought we could’ve had. That’s sports, and you just have to go out there and prove that you can win the next one.”
Lauren Rutton and Ronnie Noska cruised at Nos. 1 and 2 singles for Staples-Motley. However, Lilly Caron’s 6-1, 6-4 win for Bemidji at No. 3 singles, and the Bemidji duo of Kendal Midboe and Sam Wood rolling to a 6-0, 6-2 win at No. 2 doubles, evened the score.
“Kendal Midboe and Sam Wood do a really good job of being talkative to the teams on either side of them,” Fodness said. “Kendal has pretty much been in that No. 2 doubles spot, and she’s a senior now. You’ll hear her during matches, after matches, giving encouragement. The newcomers get to walk out there knowing they have a coach on the court with them.”
The Lumberjacks were in the driver’s seat at No. 4 singles as well. Ridley Karger led 3-0 in the second set after taking the first 6-0. Kaylee Perius stormed back to win the second set 7-6 (7-2) before claiming the super tiebreak 11-9.
Maddie Jensen and Megan Berg nearly pulled off similar antics. After a tight 7-5 loss in the first set, the No. 1 BHS doubles team raced to a 6-3 win in the second. Amy Rollins and Corinne Olson pulled away in their super tiebreak to win the Cardinals’ fourth point.
“We need to get this team to believe in themselves,” Fodness said. “When we were done, we had a really good conversation about holding ourselves to a higher standard. (We’ve had) teams (that) couldn’t do that, but this is a team that thinks highly of itself and knows they can get more out of themselves. We all kind of left today thinking this was a good first season. Now let’s go into that second season looking for 10% more of everything.”
Before the afternoon ended, Ruby McKeon and Abby Myhrer staved off Madison Perius and Natalie Hanson at No. 3 doubles. It was the first varsity doubles win for Myhrer, who teamed up with a budding leader on Thursday.
“It’s great to see Abby Myher get her first doubles win,” Fodness said. “She’s played quite a bit of singles this year. Ruby McKeon is a first-time varsity player, and she slides into that senior leader role. I thought she did a great job and played a good match with Abby.”
Bemidji is 10-3 heading into the holiday weekend. Despite playing a now 6-0 Staples-Motley team who’s aiming for the Section 8A bid to state, the Lumberjacks left the tennis courts wanting more.
“After today, I was really confident we had a lot of the right pieces in place to do some pretty good things this year,” Fodness said. “Sometimes, close losses reveal those things more than close wins do. When I looked into their eyes after this close match, I saw that they don’t like going into Labor Day on a loss. They’d like to play another match tomorrow morning. That’s a good thing.”
Staples-Motley 4, Bemidji 3
No. 1: Rutten (SM) def. Ele. Peterson 6-0, 6-1
No. 2: Noska (SM) def. Eli. Peterson 6-1, 6-2
No. 3: Caron (BHS) def. Holst 6-1, 6-4
No. 4: Perius (SM) def. Karger 0-6, 7-6 (7-2), 11-9
No. 1: Rollins/Olson (SM) def. Jensen/Berg 7-5, 6-6, 10-5
No. 2: Midboe/Wood (BHS) def. Erickson/Zimmerman 6-0, 6-2
No. 3: McKeon/Myhrer (BHS) def. Digiovanni/Pesta 7-6 (9-7), 6-4