Princeton earned the No. 2 seed for the 7AA South Subsection Team tourney, and the Tigers opened with a 7-0 sweep of No. 7 Big Lake Oct. 7.
Taking their singles matches were: Mayerchak (6-0, 6-0), B. Dorr (6-1, 6-0), K. Dorr (6-1, 6-0), and Schepper (6-0, 6-4). Rolling in doubles action were: Truck & Doyle (6-1, 6-0), B. Maus & Johnson (6-3, 6-1) and Stark & Megan Farley (6-4, 6-1).
• Princeton next defeated No. 3 Andover 4-3 on Oct. 8 to earn a berth in the Section 7AA Team semifinals which will take place at Duluth’s Arrowhead Center on Saturday (9 a.m.). Swinging for wins against the Huskies were Mayerchak (6-1, 6-2 over Destiny Lee), Bri Dorr (6-3, 6-0 over Marci Chock), Kelsey Dorr (6-0, 7-6 over Anna Belschner ) and the 2nd Doubles duo of Hannah Johnson & Becca Maus (5-7, 6-0, 6-1 over Grace Bergquist & Hannah Fenwick).
At Duluth in Saturday’s semifinals, Princeton will face North No. 1 seed Duluth East. The Tigers and Greyhounds split their two matches this season. The other semifinals will pit Elk River against Grand Rapids. The Elks handed South top-seed Forest Lake its first loss of the season in their Oct. 8 matchup.
•• The Tigers will also host the 7AA Individuals in Princeton on Thursday, Oct. 10. Entries which win two matches advance to the 7AA quarterfinals which will also be held in Duluth.
Tigers gut out win at Monticello for conference title (full story)
In a thrilling match which ate up the entire Oct. 1 afternoon with long points and long matches, the Princeton girls team racked up a gritty 4-3 victory at Monticello. The win earned the Tigers a share of the Mississippi 8 championship with the Magic as both teams finished the conference season with 8-1 marks.
With fans filling in the center bleachers in both court areas at Monticello, the Tigers’ 1st Doubles pairing of Becca Trunk and Jenna Doyle were first off the courts with a 6-3, 6-2 win.
“We had the plan to hit out behind the ball because it was fairly windy today. We lost the first game and just did not let it get to us. We decided to come back, and that’s what we did,” described Trunk.
Next off the courts was the 2nd Doubles team of Becca Maus and Hannah Johnson. They took the first set 6-2 but were scrapping hard in a 5-4 second set. With the 10th game at deuce, Maus finished off the match with an ace and another hard serve that was returned into the net.
Mary Claire Mayerchak had a tough match rolling with the Magic’s Alex Revenig at No. 1 Singles, rallying from an 0-3 deficit to win 6-4, 6-0. In the winning game of the first set, Mayerchak sparked the long ralleys by keeping the ball deep to Revenig’s feet.
“She started off really well. I adjusted by starting to hit the ball in more and just focussing more on each point,” said Mayerchak.
Mayerchak was serving for the match in what turned out to be a long battle with five deuces before the Tiger’s persistence forced two last hitting errors.
“I was really nervous in that game. It was a great fight right at the end; that made the whole match, I think,” added Mayerchak.
Meanwhile, the other singles matches were turning into grueling tests. At 2nd Singles, Princeton’s Bri Dorr was down 5-4 in the first set before breaking the Magic’s Grace Sawatzke to knot the score. Sawatzke broke back to make it 6-6, then she prevailed in the tie-break 7-2. The second set was nearly as close as Sawatzke held over the long volleys for a 7-5 win.
Princeton’s Kelsey Dorr and Sarah Stark also fought hard in their singles battles. Dorr rallied from a 6-2 loss in set one for a 6-2 win in the second, but Monti’s Brooke Volpone took the final set 6-3. Stark answered a 7-5 loss in her first set for a 6-2 win in the second, but her long match ended with a Magic point in the 7-5 final set.
The final point
The team match score was sitting at 3-3 when all eyes on the Monti courts swung over to the final match still rolling at No. 3 Doubles. Krysta Maus and Reilee Schepper battled back from a 2-5 deficit to take the first set 7-5. The Magic duo won set two 6-2, but Maus & Schepper reeled off five straight games to lead 5-2 in the third. Schepper kept getting her serves in play, and after the second deuce, Maus hammered home a slam between the two foes for the ultimate winning point to the evening as the sun was barely hanging in the sky.
“We knew the team match score was close because there were so many third sets being played, but we really didn’t know for sure how much our match counted,” said Schepper. “I just thought we had to keep going and we had to ‘do it now,’ which is what Coach Randy wrote down for us before this match.”
“It just felt amazing to get that last point of the night for us because this is my first year playing on the varsity,” added Maus.
For the match, Mayerchak was wearing the team’s pink 2012 Granite Ridge championship T-shirt for a little extra karma. “This is fantastic– two conference championships in two different conferences,” she said. “Absolutely fantastic! I’m so glad I wore this shirt today!”
Coach Randy Ronning and Coach Kelly Dorr were busy hopping between the courts to keep the ship tight throughout the evening.
“We knew Monticello’s strength was singles more than doubles, but they definitely had good doubles players, too. We were hoping to get a couple singles points, but all four matches were so close. So we had to sweep the doubles,” analyzed Coach Ronning. “We won the No. 2 Doubles in two sets when Becca and Hannah really came through. And to see the 3rd Doubles finish it was great because they are both young– an eighth and a ninth grader. That could be a lot of pressure, but they were excited.”
On Mayerchak’s battle, Coach Ronning described, “Mary Claire’s such a strong player that we depend on that point every time, and she’s been able to come through. But that’s a pressure. She came out kind of over-excited and hitting ahead of the ball, and that Monti girl was too good for that. Mary Claire was down 0-3; in fact on all the courts, we lost nine of the first 10 games. Then we just said ‘something better kick in,’ then all over the place we started picking up games.
“The girls are happy because they worked hard and played well.”
Senior Trunk finished the night with her take on the championship, “It’s a great feeling. I wouldn’t want to be with any other group of girls. I love them and they’re my team. No better way to go off into sections.”