Girls Tennis: Lake City pair 1-2 at state

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MINNEAPOLIS — It had been two years since they stepped onto the Reed Sweatt Family Tennis Center courts.

But when Lake City's Ashley Thieren and Ava Wallerich walked in, the butterflies the two felt were similar to when they were a freshman and eighth-grader, respectively.

"You always get a little nervous before any match," Wallerich said on Thursday. "State, you get a little more nervous."

"You could feel it a little bit," Thieren added. "But once we started playing, it disappeared."
In action Thursday and Friday, Thieren and Wallerich went 1-2 at the Class A state tournament. The Tigers' duo dropped their first match to fourth-seeded Audrey Delich and Madilyn Jankila of Eveleth-Gilbert, 6-1, 6-4. Trying to extend their state stay, Thieren and Wallerich beat Minnewaska's Hannah Orlowski and Alissa Thorfinnson in the consolation quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-2.

In the consolation semifinals, Thieren and Wallerich's season came to a close in a super-tiebreaker against United South Central's Emma Barnd and Carly Weber, 6-2, 2-6, 10-2.

"It was really cool to get back here with Ava again," Thieren said. "Last year Ava was out and I had to play with a different partner, which was good. But it was nice to be back with her again."

The opener saw the pair run into a buzzsaw, not unlike the caliber of teams Thieren and Wallerich run into from Rochester Lourdes in the Section 1A tournament. Delich and Jankila ended up reaching the state finals where they lost to Lourdes' Claire Palen and Natalie Allison.

"They just hit really good shots where we weren't there," Thieren said. "They were very powerful at the net and just good all around. It was a good match, but it took quite a bit for us to get going."

"They're like Lourdes in that they hit the ball really, really hard," Wallerich said. "The difference was they played really, really good defense and got a lot of balls back. We thought we'd hit winners and they'd bring it back."

The ultimate goal was to have a two-day trip to state. Thieren and Wallerich achieved that and matched their first state showing by making it to the consolation semifinals.

"Their experience level has greatly increased," said Lake City head coach Al Orthaus. "They picked up where they left off a few years ago. ... You always hope to play into the second day."