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Mayo, Lourdes each No. 2 heading into state tournaments

Mayo and Lourdes have both continued their long habit of reaching the state tennis tournament. They'll each begin state-tournament play in their respective classes on Tuesday at separate sites in Minneapolis.

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Mayo's Sutton Julsrud returns a ball during a No. 2 singles tennis match against Century on Sept. 7 at John Marshall High School. Julsrud and her team will take part in the Class AA state tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday at the University of Minnesota. Post Bulletin file photo Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Traci Westcott
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This is old hat for Sutton Julsrud, getting to the Class AA girls team state tennis tournament.

But the Mayo senior knows it’s not that way for much of her youthful team. Julsrud is the only senior on the roster and is state bound for the fifth time. It would be her sixth trip had there been a state tournament a year ago (erased by the pandemic).

Starting Tuesday at the University of Minnesota's Baseline Tennis Center, it will be time to share her knowledge with a scattering of Mayo seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders who are making their maiden state voyage.

“I may take them into our team huddle before out first match and give them a talk,” said Julsrud, Mayo’s No. 2 singles player. "I’ll just tell them to do their best and have fun.”

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On paper, if Mayo does its best throughout the event, it will land in Wednesday’s championship. The Spartans are ranked second and will be in the opposite bracket of No. 1-ranked Minnetonka.

No. 2 seeded Mayo takes on unseeded Bemidji in its quarterfinal dual on Tuesday. It’s easy to imagine Mayo getting through that round and the next, and then meeting Minnetonka at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the championship. If it comes to fruition, the Spartans would have their work cut out against the Skippers.

Minnetonka beat Mayo 5-2 earlier this season despite using a lineup that didn’t seem advantageous to it.

Still, this is a confident Mayo team. It’s coming off a 4-3 win over No. 9-ranked Lakeville South in the Section 1AA championship. It’s also coming off a rare win during the regular season over Edina, a team it hadn’t won against since 2008.

Yes, these 20-1 Spartans are young, led by No. 5-ranked freshman singles player Claire Loftus. But they can sure play and compete.

It surprises Julsrud just how good they are.

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“I think about our youth quite often,” she said. “I really didn’t think we’d be this good. We’ve got a bunch of young players, but they’re all really good.”

Tough early pairing for Lourdes

As far as Lourdes coach David Pettengill is concerned, the Class A girls state tennis championship will happen in the first round Tuesday at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

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Lourdes' Elyse Palen high-fives partner Taylor Elliott after a point during a No. 1 doubles match against Mayo on Sept. 27 at the Rochester Tennis Connection Outdoor Site. Post Bulletin file photo / Andrew Link

That 10 a.m. quarterfinal dual pairs No. 1-ranked Breck against No. 2-ranked Lourdes.

Unlike the Class AA tournament, the Class A event is not seeded, which explains why the two top teams are stuck going at it right away.

It’s something that bothers eighth-year Lourdes coach Pettengill. It’s also why he’s quick to just “tell it like it is.”

“As far as I’m concerned, the first match is for the state championship. That’s how I see it,” he said. “I don’t agree with the system. The people in the Class AA tournament are doing it right, having seeds.”

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That said, Pettengill believes his team is ready to play for the title, no matter if that happens at the beginning of the tournament or the end. And no matter how much of an underdog his team is to Breck.

And his 15-4 Eagles are that. Breck and Lourdes played each other on Sept. 25 and Breck won in one-sided fashion, 6-1.

Still, Pettengill isn’t giving up on the idea that his young team, which has no seniors, can spring the upset. He’s able to use any of three lineups for any given dual, as all state-tournament teams are, and he’s hoping he picks the right one against Breck.

His biggest advantage comes at No. 1 singles. That’s where Ryann Witter resides for Lourdes. The junior is ranked No. 3 in the state and has come on strong this season.

Witter represented the lone Eagles win against Breck earlier this season.

Still, with some finagling of the lineup, Pettengill is hoping to get not one win against Breck, but four. That would ultimately leave the Eagles winners and then the heavy favorites to go on and win the program’s first state championship since 2010.

Pettengill likes where his team is at now. He believes that Breck will be facing an improved bunch from a few weeks ago.

“I hope everything fits just right and we do well,” Pettengill said. “We need to have better execution in what we’re doing (than the last meeting with Breck), and it comes down to me picking the right lineup. But we are playing well. We seem to be peaking.”

GIRLS TENNIS

STATE CLASS AA

(U of M’s Baseline Tennis Center)

QUARTERFINALS

Tuesday, Oct. 26

(seedings listed)

No. 1 Minnetonka vs. unseeded Simley, 8 a.m.

No. 4 Mounds View vs. No. 5 Elk Rivers, 10 a.m.

No. 2 Mayo vs. unseeded Bemidji, noon

No. 3 Blake vs. unseeded Maple Grove, 2 p.m.

LOSERS BRACKET

Tuesday, Oct. 26

Minnetonka/Simley loser vs. Mounds View/Elk River loser, 4 p.m.

Mayo/Bemidji loser vs. Blake/Maple Grove loser, 6 p.m.

SEMIFINALS

Wednesday, Oct. 27

Minnetonka/Simley winner vs. Mounds View/Elk River winner, 8 a.m.

Mayo/Bemidji winner vs. Blake/Maple Grove winner, 10 a.m.

FIFTH PLACE

Wednesday, Oct. 27

Losers-bracket winners, noon

THIRD PLACE

Wednesday, Oct. 27

Semifinal losers, 2 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP

Wednesday, Oct. 27

Semifinal winners, 4 p.m.

STATE CLASS A

(Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center)

QUARTERFINALS

Tuesday, Oct. 26

(rankings listed)

No. 6 Fairmont vs. unranked Morris-MAC-WCA, 8 a.m.

No. 2 Lourdes vs. No. 1 Breck, 10 a.m.

No. 4 Litchfield vs. No. 3 Pine City, noon

No. 10 Providence Academy vs. No. 5 Crookston, 2 p.m.

LOSERS BRACKET

Tuesday, Oct. 26

Fairmont/Morris loser vs. Lourdes/Breck loser, 4 p.m.

Litchfield/Pine City loser vs. Providence/Crookston loser, 6 p.m.

SEMIFINALS

Wednesday, Oct. 27

Fairmont/Morris winner vs. Lourdes/Breck winner, 8 a.m.

Litchfield/Pine City loser vs. Providence/Crookston loser, 10 a.m.

FIFTH PLACE

Wednesday, Oct. 27

Losers-bracket winners, noon

THIRD PLACE

Wednesday, Oct. 27

Semifinal losers, 2 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP

Wednesday, Oct. 27

Semifinal winners, 4 p.m.

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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