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Girls Tennis: Lake City trio prepares for state's finest

Joe Brown/Republican Eagle Lake City seniors Katie Wallerich, Allison Harvey and Amy Orthaus will represent the Tigers at the state girls tennis tournament, with first-round matches starting Thursday at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

LAKE CITY - After losing 7-6 (3) in the first set of the Section 1A semifinals match with Trinity School's Jenny Mulvey, some panic set in for Lake City senior Amy Orthaus.

The Tigers' No. 1 singles player all season and a top-15 singles player in Class A, Orthaus all of a sudden saw her shot at a second-straight state tournament berth in jeopardy. And facing Mulvey, Orthaus said, was like playing against herself.

"It was really scary," Orthaus said. "I remember sitting down after losing the first set and thinking, 'Wow, if I don't win the next one, it's just going to end here. All that hard work will be done.'"

In the second set, Orthaus kept her state hopes alive with a 6-4 victory, and she secured a spot at state with a 6-4 win in the third set.

And this year the Lake City senior won't be going to state alone: The Tigers' No. 1 doubles team of Allison Harvey and Katie Wallerich will head to the Class A state championship tournament, which starts Thursday at the Reed-Sweatt Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

"It's awesome. I love those girls," Orthaus said. "We have the best time at practice and we're already good friends. ... I can't think of a better way to end my tennis career."

Orthaus, ranked 14th in Class A in the latest state tennis poll, opens the singles tournament at 8 a.m. against St. Peter's Calleigh Carlson, who won the Section 2A individual tournament.

Harvey and Wallerich, who are headed to their first state tournament appearance, begin play at 10 a.m. against the Section 8A champions, Christina Smith and Julia Renner of Park Rapids Area.

"State was a big goal," Harvey said, "and just to get here, we're excited to see how far we can go."

Harvey and Wallerich were paired for the first time this fall, but quickly, the Tigers' duo was able to find some cohesion on the way to becoming Lake City's top team.

"It took us until probably the second practice," Wallerich said. "Going into (the season), we were both kind of iffy about it because she had played with someone else all last year and I played singles. In the second practice, I'd say we really clicked."

Harvey added, "At first, it was just kind of a, 'This is cool' thing, and when we played at the JM (Rochester John Marshall) tournament, we beat Apple Valley and we beat Owatonna, which are both really hard teams. We realized we could do something."

The pairing continued to shine, getting the No. 1 seed in the section tournament, and cruising all the way to the section finals.

"We've been hoping to get this far," Wallerich said. "We never got ahead of ourselves.

"We just told ourselves to go one shot at a time, and it's exciting to be where we are."

Harvey admitted that it's been a nerve-wracking experience since being the top seed in the section tournament. Meanwhile, her doubles partner is hoping to draw from her state experience with the dance team to help calm the nerves.

"It's pressure to get to state, but once you get there, it's just fun," Wallerich said. "We want to do well, and Amy told us it's tough competition up there as well. We just have to go out strong and do what we normally do."

As for Orthaus, there's just one simple goal in mind.

"My goal this year is to win a match at state," Orthaus said. "I'm more ready this year because I know what happens. I feel like my mind is more ready because now I know when I get there, I know the sequence of when things happen while you're there."

Harvey added, "I'm at 19 wins, and Katie's at 20, and it would be nice to get to 20. It's just a cool thing. ... Just by getting to state, that was big."

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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