BY ROB LAPLANTE
The streak is over. After winning 10 consecutive matches, the St. Michael-Albertville girls’ tennis team dropped a 4-3 decision last Thursday to Monticello.
After posting a 5-2 win Monday over Cambridge-Isanti and a 6-1 victory Tuesday over Rogers, the Knights lost its first conference match of the season in a hard fought three-hour battle to the Magic.
With the match tied 3-3, the deciding point was riding on an epic three-set battle at No. 2 singles between STMA junior Jessica Duda and Monticello junior Brooke Volpone.
With all other matches complete, both team’s players sat watching the pivotal singles match for nearly an hour. Duda eventually lost a three-set battle 7-5, 1-6, 5-7. The match took nearly three and a half hours to complete.
“I don’t really mind everybody watching me like that,” said an exhausted Duda afterwards. “I like that with my team cheering me on and stuff. Even though I did lose, you have to have the right mentality to play like that.”
“I was really proud of Jessica how she battled,” said STMA head coach Jim Riles. “I knew Monticello had three of their four singles players back, so for us to win two of those four matches was a good sign.”
Senior Cierra Eystad and freshman sister, Kiana, both won their singles matches. Cierra won at No. 1 singles 6-4, 7-5 against the Magic’s scrappy freshman Alex Revenig. Kiana continued her fabulous season with a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 4 singles. As of Monday, Kiana improved her singles record to 13-0.
In another long battle, No. 2 doubles partners Kristina Budde, a senior, and junior Brittany Haas lost a three-set battle 6-4, 4-6, 3-6. Also falling were senior Michaela Haraldson and sophomore Shelbie Olek 3-6, 2-6 at No. 3 doubles.
“We were hoping to sweep the doubles,” Riles said. “Monticello had all new doubles players and we only got one doubles match. But the girls really battled and worked real hard. We just came up a little bit short.”
The only victory came at No. 1 with the pairing of senior’s Kylie Slavin and Halley Fritze. The duo combined for a 6-4, 7-5 win.
“We mixed things up in the pre-season. Once the conference started, we kind of stuck with our doubles pairings,” Riles said. “Kylie and Halley are definitely our number one group and they are hitting the ball really well for us.”
The Knights record went to 11-3 after dropping another close battle 4-2 on Monday at Champlin Park. Tuesday they played at Cambridge-Isanti and Thursday they are in action against Rogers.
“We’re aiming for winning the conference,” Duda said. “This year has been a lot of fun. I love to play and the girls this year are so nice which makes things a lot of fun.”