The Osakis tennis team has won what has been a two-team race in the Section 6A field in each of the last couple seasons, but a familiar foe is knocking even louder on the door this fall.
Minnewaska and the Silverstreaks have owned the section in recent years and ended up playing each other in the title match with a trip to state on the line. Osakis won close matches there in 2017 and 2018. On Tuesday in their only match of the regular season, it was Minnewaska that came away with a 5-2 win.
“Osakis is always a very competitive match every year,” Minnewaska coach and Osakis native Tara Reichmann said. “Both programs have been quite successful and this year is no different. Tonight, we had some very close matches as we always do, and fortunately (we) were able to compete for the win.”
The Lakers, ranked ninth as a team in the Class A polls, did it on the back of their singles lineup. Danielle Thorfinnson anchors that group from the No. 1 spot. The senior is ranked fifth in the individual state rankings and she showed why against one of the area’s other top singles players in Osakis’ Tia Dykema.
Thorfinnson won the first set 6-3 before Dykema answered with a 6-2 win. Thorfinnson then put things away in the third with a 6-1 win.
The Lakers’ Alissa Thorfinnson also won a three-setter against Alexa Lien, while Karra Hanson and Addy Randt each won in straight sets.
“I think we are pretty solid in singles this year but also have the option of mixing things up,” Reichmann said. “We have a lot of versatility this year. Although we swept the singles, we were also very close in other doubles as well, which is promising.”
Osakis was playing its first match in almost two weeks after a couple of rainouts since a Sept. 5 triangular. Head coach Ryan Maddock thought his girls started off a little sluggish but was proud of the way they settled in and gave themselves a chance at most spots.
“We showed a lot of fight and the girls were willing to try different things to get back into their matches, but ultimately we fell short today,” Maddock said. “Early, it did look like it might be a pretty easy team win for them, so we are encouraged that we were able to make a match of it.”
The first doubles duo of Camryn Hoffarth and Mara VanNyhuis exemplified that perseverance. Minnewaska’s Greta Reichmann and Annika Randt dominated the first set of that match, 6-0, before Hoffarth and VanNyhuis flipped the script to win 6-1, 6-2 over the final two sets.
“Camryn and Mara were having too many unforced errors in their first set,” Maddock said. “Once they stopped giving their opponents easy points, they were able to settle in and play the way they are capable of. That was a great win for Camryn and Mara and it shows that they can play and beat anyone if they keep the unforced errors in check.”
Both teams dealt with strong south winds that forced them to adjust their playing style a bit.
“It makes me focus a little more,” Hanson said. “You can’t just hit your regular swing. You have to learn to hit it into the wind.”
Hanson was one of four Minnewaska seniors in the lineup on Tuesday who helped lead this group. The Lakers are off to an 11-4 record so far this season. Like Osakis (8-3), Minnewaska has challenged itself this year by going to more competitive tournaments at places like Brainerd and Litchfield. Both of these Class A programs are at the point where they want to find the best competition they can outside of conference play to get them ready for the postseason.
“I think that’s what has helped us get better,” Hanson said.
Both Osakis and Minnewaska have a good idea that they will end up in the Section 6A title match with a chance to compete at the state tournament. For the Lakers, that’s a spot they are eager to get back to after losing such tight contests the last two years.
“We just want it so bad,” Hanson said. “We’ve been trying so hard every year, and especially when it goes to the very end and it’s tied and this is the match that decides the whole thing. We’re just ready to win that this year.”
Osakis does not want to give up that top spot so easy. After settling down from a slow start on Tuesday, the Silverstreaks are hopeful that if these two meet again, they will be right there with a chance to make it three straight 6A titles.
“The biggest takeaway for our team from this match is we have to do a better job of not making too many unforced errors,” Maddock said. “Minnewaska is too good of a team. We had to really work for our games and they had too many easy games today. For us to be successful against them in the future, our team will need to do a better job of keeping unforced errors in check.”
MINNEWASKA 5, OSAKIS 2
SINGLES - No. 1 - Danielle Thorfinnson (M) def. Tia Dykema, 6-3, 2-6, 6-1; No. 2 - Alissa Thorfinnson (M) def. Alexa Lien, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2; No. 3 - Karra Hanson (M) def. Kennedy George, 6-1, 6-2; No. 4 - Addy Randt (M) def. Larissa Hoffarth, 6-1, 7-5
DOUBLES - No. 1 - Camryn Hoffarth/Mara VanNyhuis (O) def. Greta Reichmann/Annika Randt, 0-6, 6-1, 6-2; No. 2 - Maddie Thorfinnson/Olivia Richards (M) def. Sydney Rach/Kadyn Triebenbach, 6-1, 6-2; No. 3 - Brittany Dietrich/Ellie George (O) def. Maddi Kluver/Annika Stensrud, 7-6 (4), 6-4