Teams take to the tennis court for the 1st time this season

LUVERNE -- This fall, Worthington senior Maggie Fornoff decided not to go out for cross country or volleyball. She's still spending a lot of time running and hitting over a net -- only now, she has a tennis racket in her hand. "I've tried volleyb...

Worthington's Annie Zaske
Michael Brauer/Daily Globe Worthington's Annie Zaske returns a shot during the Worthington Invitational Friday in Luverne.

LUVERNE -- This fall, Worthington senior Maggie Fornoff decided not to go out for cross country or volleyball.

She's still spending a lot of time running and hitting over a net -- only now, she has a tennis racket in her hand.

"I've tried volleyball and cross country, so I thought 'why not?' I might as well sample all of the fall sports," Fornoff said, laughing.

Girls' tennis season officially started Friday at the Worthington Invitational, a four-team, four-bracket tournament featuring Luverne, Pipestone Area, Martin County West and the Trojans.

For many girls, including Fornoff, it was their first taste of actual competition.


Fornoff and partner Elizabeth Luke, another first-year player, were shut out in their first match against Luverne's Hilary Deragisch and Cathryn Hartz. But the rookies bounced back with a 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Martin County West.

"I was a little nervous, but I had a partner to lean on," said Fornoff. "We helped pick each other up and stay cool."

Fornoff and Luke met teammates Amy Schutte and Jen Froderman in an all-Worthington version of the top doubles bracket consolation round.

"It was so much fun, it took the pressure off," Fornoff said about the all red-and-black matchup. "Even though it was for a medal we could just sort of relax and have fun and play our best."

Schutte and Froderman beat their friends 6-2, 6-3. After the match, the four girls were all smiles.

"It was really nice to see the chemistry of the doubles," said Worthington head coach Mike Marquardt. "I was a little concerned having new girls coming in that don't have much experience."

On the opposite side of the bracket, Deragisch and Hartz played Luverne's other top doubles squad, Paige Pierce and Krista Van Dyk, for an "all-Cardinal" doubles championship. Both sides had to win two matches apiece to get there.

Deragisch and Hartz came out on top 6-1, 6-1.


In the top singles championship, Pipestone's Ashley Gustafson had her hands full with Martin County West's Stephanie Biehn.

Beihn, coming off of a fourth-place finish at last year's Class A state singles, lost only two games in three tournament matches on the day. She won against Gustafson 6-0, 6-1.

"It shows me what I need to work on more," said Gustafson afterwards. "My forehand, it feels right, but it always goes too long.

"I've got to get more endurance, because I got tired really fast. But then again, it's the third match of the day."

A winded Gustafson said she only had about 20 minutes in between her final two matches - making it tough to keep up with some of the volleys Beihn missiled over the net. But after it was all said and done, the senior was still happy with her second-place performance.

"At least I made it to the championship. We had some hard competition," she said.

Luverne's junior Hannah Baartman was the only other athlete to score on Beihn in a 6-0, 6-1 first-round loss. However, Baartman bounced back to win 6-2, 6-1 against Worthington's Samena Nalla and 6-2, 6-3 over Lindsey Treitline from Martin County West in the top singles consolation game.

The Cardinals also fared well in the bottom brackets. Kaitlyn Wohnoutka defeated fellow freshman Emily Robinson 6-1, 6-2 for a one-two Luverne finish in the lower singles championship.


Meanwhile, sophomores Erin Doherty and Erica Marshall teamed up to win the lower doubles championship 6-3, 6-3 over Pipestone Area's Laura Rudie and Ashley Griebel.

In the first round, the Arrows' Heather Evans and Becky Keller also lost to Doherty and Marshall, 6-1, 6-3. Evans and Keller won their next two matches though, and they went home with consolation medals.

According to Marquardt, the season's first tournament is all about shaking off the cobwebs - or for the first-year players, testing the waters.

"The things you think you covered well in practice show themselves here," he said. "It's a true test of 'yeah, we got that covered, we can move on' or 'we need to rethink things.'"

Worthington senior Annie Zaske knows what she wants to work on.

"I came up to the net a lot and I won a lot of shots there, but sometimes I have trouble aiming my volleys," she said.

Zaske is transitioning to singles this season after playing doubles last year. She lost to Pipestone Area's Tiffany Woelber 6-1, 6-4 in the first round, but she managed to grab her first singles-game victory 6-2 during her next match against Jen Hagen from Martin County West.

"Annie went doubles last year to singles, that's a huge transition," said Marquardt. "She was just like, 'You know what, coach? I'll give it a go,' and did wonderful."


The coach said Zaske and the other seniors have been leaders for the younger girls.

"I have some experience with figuring all this stuff out, so I try and help as much as I can," Zaske said.

"It was nice to get back into tennis mode."

Pipestone Area's Ashley Gustafson
Michael Brauer/Daily Globe Pipestone Area's Ashley Gustafson hits a shot during the Worthington Invitational Friday in Luverne.

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