Sep. 19—BEMIDJI — The best-laid plans of coaches and players often go awry as a season progresses.
The Bemidji High School girls tennis team has been forced to devise new plans on the fly a few times this year. After losing contributor Morgan Nyhusmoen prior to the season, the Lumberjacks are now without senior Maddie Jensen, who is typically a doubles stalwart, after she suffered an elbow injury in practice on Friday, Sept. 15.
But BHS still has matches to play. And on Tuesday at their home courts, the Jacks found an effective new lineup, adjusting several players on the ladder yet nevertheless coming up with a 6-1 win over Detroit Lakes. Bemidji also defeated Crookston 4-3 later in the day.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” said senior doubles player Kendal Midboe, who slid up to the No. 1 spot with Elena Peterson and notched a 6-1, 6-1 victory. “But it’s super fun also (with) everyone getting to move around a little bit. The people who maybe had the chance (to play) but didn’t quite make it (into the original lineup) are now getting the chance. I think the team is handling it really well.”
Bemidji reimagined its doubles structure as a whole. Midboe moved up to partner with Peterson, who played alongside Jensen before the latter’s injury. Megan Berg was elevated to join Sam Wood at No. 2, and Jane Mueller joined Ruby McKeon at No. 3.
The new pairings worked like a charm. Berg and Wood cruised 6-1, 6-2, while Mueller and McKeon triumphed 6-1, 6-1.
“There aren’t nice things about missing players in the lineup,” head coach Kyle Fodness said. “But the upside of it is it forces you to change things around a little bit and put players in different positions, and really, all high school sports are about personal development. … That can also force you to really think about your game and think, ‘What am I really, really good at? What do I have to do to help my partner out?'”
The singles lineup mostly remained the same, with one notable exception. Top three players Elizabeth Peterson, Bailey Rupp and Lilly Caron stayed in their spots, and all three picked up wins.
Elizabeth Peterson eked out a 6-3, 4-6, 10-8 victory. Rupp and Caron made quick work of their DL counterparts, dropping only four games each. They triumphed by scores of 6-2, 6-2 and 6-1, 6-3, respectively.
Lineup newcomer Sarah Breyen put up a fight at No. 4 singles, ultimately losing 6-4, 6-0.
Against Crookston, Elizabeth Peterson and Rupp racked up two more wins. Elizabeth Peterson clinched Bemidji’s overall team victory with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 triumph.
Rupp responded to a 6-0 first-set defeat, winning the final two sets 6-2 and 10-8.
In doubles, Berg and Wood prevailed 6-1, 2-6, 10-6. McKeon switched partners again, pairing with Gwen Galloway to win 2-6, 6-4, 10-6.
As the Lumberjacks celebrated Senior Day before their late afternoon match against Crookston, Midboe and other Bemidji veterans reflected on the memories and moments from their high school tennis journey. This group of Jacks has seen much success, including back-to-back Section 8AA titles in 2020 and 2021.
With the Section 8AA postseason around the corner, BHS has its collective mind set on maximizing the time still available to spend on the courts this fall.
“To win (sections) obviously would be the goal,” Midboe said. “But I would say just have fun. This team — this year has been one of my favorite years. So (I’m trying to) take it all in, enjoy it while it’s there. … It’s never going to be like this again. I’ll be done after this. So yeah, it’s crazy.”
Fodness, meanwhile, hopes his team defines its section performance by assigning a particular term to it.
“You want to hang your hat on an adjective in the tournament,” he said. “You can’t always control the result. There are injuries that happen, other teams get hot, we get hot. But you can control what adjective you are. So for us, if we can say that when we’re done with the tournament, we were the toughest team, that’s something you can kind of hang your hat on.”
Bemidji 6, Detroit Lakes 1
No. 1: Eli. Peterson (BHS) def. Askelson 6-3, 4-6, 10-8
No. 2: Rupp (BHS) def. Pazdernik 6-2, 6-2
No. 3: Caron (BHS) def. Wolf 6-1, 6-3
No. 4: Carlson (DL) def. Breyen 6-4, 6-0
No. 1: Midboe/Ele. Peterson (BHS) def. Bolar/Lindberg 6-1, 6-1
No. 2: Berg/Wood (BHS) def. Sliper/Hochgraber 6-1, 6-2
No. 3: Mueller/McKeon (BHS) def. Cummings/Boeke 6-1, 6-1
Bemidji 4, Crookston 3
No. 1: Eli. Peterson (BHS) def. Gunderson 7-6 (7-5), 6-1
No. 2: Rupp (BHS) def. Tull 0-6, 6-2, 10-8
No. 3: Smith (CRK) def. Caron 6-4, 6-3
No. 4: Abrahamson (CRK) def. Karger 6-0, 6-0
No. 1: Clauson/Fee (CRK) def. Midboe/Ele. Peterson 7-6 (7-0), 6-3
No. 2: Berg/Wood (BHS) def. Nelson/Brekken 6-1, 2-6, 10-6
No. 3: Galloway/McKeon (BHS) def. Sanders/Fanfulik 2-6, 6-4, 10-6