Crookston beat Staples-Motley in the quarters, but could not get past Park Rapids.

   Crookston entered the Section 8A Team Tournament as the four seed with eight teams. The Pirates edged out Staples-Motley in the quarterfinals match and came one win away from upsetting the first seed in the semifinals before falling 4-3 to Park Rapids.

Staples-Motley W 4-3

    The Pirates’ first contest came against Staples-Motley, an unfamiliar opponent for Crookston this season. The two squads played each other closely, but it the end, Crookston emerged victorious with a 4-3 win.

    In the doubles category, Crookston snagged the advantage. The two seniors, Elysa Christensen and Hannah Street, dominated their match 6-0, 6-0 in first doubles and Emma Osborn (Fr.) and Emma Gunderson (7th Grade) took care of third doubles 7-5, 6-1.

    The teams split singles matches with Hayden Winjum (Fr.) and Emma Borowicz (So.) winning first and third singles.

    Winjum ran into a bit of trouble and needed a tiebreaker to win the second set which had been a weak spot for the Pirates during the regular season. Despite the prior slumps, Winjum downed her opponent 6-1, 7-6(7-2).

    “Hayden is up 4-1 in the second and next thing you know, she goes down 5-4,” Head Coach Geffre said. “We’re thinking we’re going to need her to win. She wins the next game, now it's 5-5. Loses the next game 6-5, ties it 6-6 and we’re going into another tiebreaker. She won the tiebreaker 7-2. After losing so many tiebreakers all year, she went out and dominated it.”

    Needing a win to keep the team alive, Emma Borowicz also faced a tiebreaker and won the deciding match in two sets 6-4, 7-6(7-3).

    Well aware of the issues tiebreakers presented to his team all year, Geffre commended his players for rising to the occasion when it mattered.

    “That was a battle out there and [Emma] knew it was her match,” Geffre said. “She just really got after it. That was really cool to see our kids put their competitive game faces on when they had to. Earlier in the year, we lost a lot of those, but all of a sudden, we started winning them.”

Other Matches

Second Singles
Catherine Tiedemann (So.) - L 2-6, 6-3, 6-1

Fourth Singles
Halle Winjum (7th Grade) - L 6-3, 7-6(8-6)

Second Singles
Hannah Lindemoen (Fr.)/Eden Haller (Jr.) - L 1-6, 6-1, 7-6(7-1)

Park Rapids L 4-3

    The Pirates found themselves one win away from moving on to the next day and playing for a spot in the state tournament. That road took them up against the No. 1 seed Park Rapids. In their two meetings this season, Crookston lost both 5-2.

    “We knew the one, two and three were really good,” Geffre said. “They have eight seniors in their lineup and their one, two and three are all really solid. We knew we’d have to steal one someplace and it just came down really tight. I was really proud of the way the kids battled.”

    Much like the quarterfinals round, Crookston owned the doubles category. Tiedemann and Borowicz teamed up in first doubles and made quick work of their opponents 6-1, 6-0. Hayden Winjum and Osborn also played a relatively quick match winning second doubles 6-2, 6-2. Lindemoen and Gunderson rounded out the portion with a 6-4, 6-1 third doubles victory.

    All that sat between the Pirates and a section championship round was one singles win. But Park Rapids defended their number one ranking and claimed all four singles matches to eliminate Crookston from the tournament.

    First, second and third singles all lost in two sets. Halle Winjum took the decisive fourth singles match into a third set, but ultimately lost 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

    “It was great,” Geffre said. “Winjum played so tough. She just wouldn’t quit. She was bleeding from the heel from a blister and she’s out there running around. I thought when the girl was up 5-0 with a match point, it’s over. No, there were 20 or 21 deuces in that last game. She’s down 5-0 and wouldn’t quit. One game lasted 33 minutes.”

Other Matches

First Singles
Hannah Street - L 6-2, 6-0

Second Singles
Eden Haller - L 6-1, 6-0

Third Singles
Elysa Christensen - L 6-0, 6-1

    The season for the team may be over, but Geffre praised his kids for the improvement they showed throughout the season.   

    “I thought it was going to be a big rebuilding year with all the kids we lost last year,” Geffre said. “A lot of the kids really stepped up. [Park Rapids] is the number one seed in our section and we took them right down to the wire. They believed. We always tell the kids the first step is believing. They believed they could do it and they dang near did.”

    Crookston's (6-18) season as a team came to and end, but the season continues for six Pirates who will compete in the Section 8A Individual Tournament starting on Friday, October 12.

Singles

No. 3 Hayden Winjum
First match (Round of 16) - Friday, October 12 at 11 a.m.

No. 12 Hannah Street
First match (Round of 16) - Friday, October 12 at 11 a.m.

Doubles

No. 2 Catherine Tiedemann/Emma Borowicz
First match (Round of 16) - Friday, October 12 at 2 p.m.

No. 13 Elysa Christensen/Eden Haller
First match (Round of 16) - Friday, October 12 at 12:30 p.m.

    For Geffre and the remaining Pirates, it is about turning the page and focusing on a brand new tournament.

    “They learned a lot and I think they’re going to go out and work hard,” Geffre said. “Now it’s a situation where the team can’t go and it’s their shot. Hopefully they make it to the second round and then try and make it to Saturday.”

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For feedback or questions, contact the Times at (218) 281-2730, Nolan Beilstein at (940) 372-8175 or by email at nbeilstein@crookstontimes.com.