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Prep tennis: Doubles lead Luverne to opening win

LUVERNE — All three doubles pairs picked up hard-fought wins to lead Luverne in a season-opening win Saturday.

Although the tandems were new pairings for the Cardinals, each managed to beat their Lac qui Parle Valley opponents and make the difference in the 5-2 victory.

“Our doubles teams really came through for us today,” said Luverne coach Greg Antoine. “Each team will have to get used to each other throughout the season.”

Antoine expects Saturday’s top doubles duo McKenzi Wenninger and Dani Kneip to be together most of the season. Therefore, he said they will be better as the season goes on.

That could be a scary though for Luverne’s opponents. Wenninger and Kneip opened the season with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Holly Hacker and Courtney Hanson of LqPV.

Tatiana Gust and Brooke Nattress got the toughest test in their No. 2 doubles match against Karissa Jahn and Kathryn Bratsch. Gust and Nattress went up 1-0 with a 6-3 victory in the first set, but the Eagles’ pair came storming back to force a third set with a 6-4 win.

The Cards regained their form from the opening set, outlasting their opponents for a 6-4 win to clinch the victory.

After a tough 7-5 win over Sierra Koepp and Marissa Gearman of LqPV in the first set at third doubles, Emily Wendland and Brianna Wessels cruised the rest of the way.

Wendland and Wessels closed out the sweep with a 6-1 win in the second set.

“We were good today at finishing points that we had the advantage in,” Antoine said. “When given the opportunity, you have to get the point. They did.”

The Cardinals and Eagles split on the singles side of the competition with two of the four matches going to a decisive third set.

Kynzie Smedsrud picked up her first win of the season at No. 1 singles in straight-set fashion. She took down LqPV’s Kylie Jahn 6-4, 6-2.

Her win was an encouraging sign to her coach.

“She will be meeting many good players this season, so she is off to a good start,” Antoine said.

After playing doubles throughout her career, Lexie Severtson officially made the move to singles on Saturday. She played in the No. 2 position and gave Kamryn Siedschlag a battle. In the end, however, she came out on the wrong end of a 6-3, 6-2 decision.

Samantha Pierce got out to a bit of a slow start against Kristyne Hamburg, only to come storming back for a three-set triumph. Pierce dropped the first set 6-4, but was dominant in a 6-0 win to tie it up and held on for a 6-3 victory in the third.

Luverne’s Monaya Hustoft and Ashtyn Oie played one of the tighthest matches of the day at fourth singles. Oie got the first set 7-5, but Hustoft forced a third with a 6-4 win. Oie recovered in time to pick up a 6-2 win in the third.

“Sometimes you learn a whole lot more playing a good player and losing than you do by beating an easy opponent,” Antoine said. “Monaya will become a better player because of this match.”

Luverne will be back on its home court at 3:30 p.m. tonight. It will do battle with both Montevideo and Yellow Medicine East.

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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