Netters advance in section tourney

Virginia's Anneka Lundgren winds up for a return during Wednesday's individual tennis finals in Virginia.

VIRGINIA — The Iron Range will be well represented next week at the Section 7A Individual Tennis Tournament with both Virginia and Eveleth-Gilbert each sending a singles player and a pair of doubles teams down to the Sta Fit Fitness Center in Sartell.

The top four singles players and top four doubles pairs from the northern sub-section will advance to next week’s section championships and meet the top four from the southern sub-section in hopes of advancing to the state tournament.

Golden Bears freshman Lydia Delich claimed the sub-section singles title after defeating Virginia junior Mary Skorich in the championship match, 6-4, 6-1. Delich will take with her a No. 1 seed into the tournament with Skorich coming in with the No. 2 seed. They’ll be joined by a pair of Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers with Brenna Bollins earning the No. 3 seed and Meredith Boettcher taking the fourth spot.

The doubles side, however, will be all Blue Devils and Golden Bears. In the doubles championship, Virginia seniors Anna Seitz and Ava Warren dispatched their teammates and Blue Devils juniors Anneka Lundgren and Jacie Smith, 6-0, 6-3 to earn a No. 1 seed at next week’s tournament. Lundgren and Smith will be the north’s No. 2 seed. In the third place match, a pair of Eveleth-Gilbert duos faced off for seeding purposes with eighth graders Julia Lindseth and Anna Beaudette taking on senior McKenna Edstrom and freshman Katelyn Torrel. In the end, Lindseth and Beaudette got the win over their Bears teammates, 6-3, 6-0 to earn the No. 3 seed. As a result, Edstrom and Torrel will have the north’s No. 4 seed.

With both of their squads sending nearly the max amount of players to next week’s section tournament, both Virginia head coach Jeff Mauston and Eveleth-Gilbert head coach Dean Edstrom were pleased with the results from Wednesday’s tournament.

“I think, overall, our team was represented well by the kids that were on court here today,” Edstrom said. “I thought we played a lot of good tennis. I think some girls got tired by the end of the day but overall, I was happy with how we played.”

“Very happy to see how well we did today,” Mauston said. “I think we’re ready and we’re definitely anxious. We’ve had a long break between our last match and the playoffs so I think we’re ready to go. I think if we can continue on the success we had today, we should be okay.”

In the singles championship between Delich and Skorich, Skorich was able to hang tough with Delich throughout the first set, but once the freshman Golden Bear found her groove, it was all Delich from there.

“I think Mary had a good game plan coming in,” Mauston said of the singles final. “She really wanted to play Lydia and Lydia is the best around. Mary played two great matches to get there and played very in the final. But that’s just a testament to how good Lydia is. She’s upped her game more than anyone in our section and I think she’s the favorite to win next week. For Mary to run close with her, it made it a great match.”

Edstrom believes Delich’s play at the No. 1 singles spot all year helped prepare her for Wednesday’s tournament.

“She’s definitely a big part of our team,” Edstrom said. “Spending all year at No. 1 and being solid there for us is great. She’s really had an awesome year. I think Lydia is ready to make some noise down at sections and has the ability to make some noise down at the state tournament. She’s just that good and it’s fun to watch her grow as a player.”

Although only a freshman, Delich has two state tournament appearances already under her belt and it doesn’t look like the pressure of being a No. 1 player has gotten to her according to her coach.

“My fear was that she’d start feeling the pressure of being No. 1 and being the target for those other girls but she seems to be handling it well. I think she’ll continue to do that coming into next week.”

On the doubles side, the championship match favored the slightly more experienced Blue Devils pair of Warren and Seitz. The two have teamed up plenty of times in the past in post season play and advanced to a few individual state tournaments of their own. Lundgren and Smith, however, proved they belong in the conversation for one of the best doubles duos in the section, according to Mauston.

“I think it’s awesome to have your two teams playing each other in a final like that. Anneka and Jacie haven’t lost all year but I think Ava and Anna’s experience really showed today. But looking at the scores from earlier matches, Anneka and Jacie have handled themselves pretty well no matter who they’re playing.

“I’m hoping both teams can qualify for state and I think it’s a good sign for us next year to have our juniors playing so well against our seniors.”

The remainder of the 7A team tournament and individual tournament will take place next week in Sartell as opposed to Virginia as it has for the past many years. With both teams making Virginia Indoors their home during poor weather, some are excited to make the trip to continue the post season.

“Our team is looking forward to traveling,” Edstrom said. “It feels like more of an event when you get to go somewhere instead of everyone just showing up where you practice all season. I think having a new location and a new experience for all of our girls will make it a little more special and might benefit us in some ways we might not expect.”

The team portion of the section tournament will continue Monday with Virginia taking on Pine City in Sartell at 1 p.m. in the semifinals. Eveleth-Gilbert will battle with Pequot Lakes in the other semifinal following that match with the championship following after that.

Individual tournaments will continue Tuesday in Sartell at 9 a.m.

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