In their first duel of the year, the Fergus Falls girls tennis team saw tough competition from the singles lineup as the visiting Park Rapids Area Panthers left the court with a 5-2 victory Tuesday.
Fergus’ Kailyn Richey took on two-time state competitor Julia Smith in number one singles. Although Richey put up a fight, Smith took the match in two sets 6-2, 6-2. The Panthers claimed the next two singles matches as Natalie Kinkel defeated Abby Lemke 6-1, 6-0 and Tori Hilmanowski topped Maren Lundberg 6-2, 6-1. Fergus picked up their first win as Becca Hofmann won number four singles fighting back from a first set loss 5-7, 6-0, 6-2.
In doubles, the Otters looked to be on the right track in the early going as Abby MacFarlane and Amanda Nelson started out with a 6-4 first set win, but a rally by the Park Rapids first doubles team saw the Otter duo fall in the next two sets 6-2, 7-6 (9-7). Continuing the storyline of the day, the team of Katie Leitch and Sadie Christianson fought a hard second doubles match but dropped the two set showcase 7-5, 6-4. Fergus finished off the day on a positive note as Taylor Pikala and Alice Schindler over-powered their opponents 6-1, 6-0.
“Coach Morris has developed a skilled Park Rapids team that deserved to win, but I liked how our Otter girls fought hard in all their matches today, including the top three singles matches where we ran into some very skilled players,” Otters coach Norm Newell said. “Becca Hofmann in her first varsity action really dug down deep after losing her first set and mentally and physical powered her way through the second and third sets to pull out a very nice win. Taylor Pikala and Alice Schindler played very well together today in some nice doubles action for their win, and our number 1 and 2 doubles were just a few key points away from pulling out their matches. I was proud of the team’s efforts today and look forward to their competitiveness in future matches.”
In JV action, Karissa Ellingson won a singles match 8-4 and the doubles team of Alex McKinnell and Nicole Smith came back from three games down to pull out a victory 8-7.
The Otters will be back in action Thursday as they welcome in the Detroit Lakes Lakers for a duel under the lights beginning at 7 p.m.
Park Rapids 5, Fergus Falls 2
1. Julia Smith (PR) 6-2, 6-2 over Kailyn Richey (FF)
2. Natalie Kinkel (PR) 6-1, 6-0 over Abby Lemke (FF)
3. Tori Hilmanowski (PR) 6-2, 6-1 over Maren Lundberg (FF)
4. Becca Hofmann (FF) 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 over Olivia Wallace (PR)
1. Mariena Dearstyne & Kellsey Clark (PR) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (9-7) over Abby MacFarlane & Amanda Nelson (FF)
2. Drew Hilmanowski & Haley MacPherson (PR) 7-5, 6-4 over Katie Leitch & Sadie Christianson (FF)
3. Taylor Pikala & Alice Schindler (FF) 6-1, 6-0 over Gracie Eischens & Megan Powers (PR)