Hutchinson’s girls tennis team is heading back to Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter for the semifinals of the Section 2AA team playoffs.
The trip south has been a yearly tradition for the past five years, and the Tigers will make it six after Thursday’s 6-1 win over Mankato East at home in the section quarterfinals. Before that, Hutch swept New Ulm 7-0 Tuesday in the opening round.
Those two wins lifted Hutchinson’s overall record to 19-3 this season. Senior singles player Alex Hantge credited “the chemistry between girls” for Hutchinson’s outstanding season so far this year.
“Over the many practices we’ve had, we’ve learned to connect with each other and it’s paying off,” she said. “Just being together for a long time and being good friends with each other helps us connect.”
Building bonds has also been key for Hutch’s No. 3 doubles team, Hannah Ladwig and Avarie Petersen, which earned the fourth win in Thursday’s match to seal the team’s victory.
“This was our first year playing together, so it’s really been about getting that connection together and knowing how each other plays,” Ladwig said.
Although Ladwig has made the trip to Gustavus before, this will be Petersen first time playing in the semifinals and she’s looking forward to the challenge. She going with the mindset “just keep playing no matter what the score is.”
“I think we have a really good chance at sections in Gustavus,” Hantge said about the semifinals. “We work really hard in practice, and I hope that pays off in the future.”
While the Tigers are optimistic, they also know the competition is much more fierce at Gustavus. Hutchinson, the No. 1 seed in the section’s South Division, will play the second seed to come out of the North Division, while the No. 1 seed from the North will play the No. 2 seed from the South.
Hutchinson was able to play Thursday’s match thanks to the courts at the Fairgrounds, but the other three section matches were postponed until Saturday. Still, Hutchinson knows that Minnetonka and Orono will likely be the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, out of the North. The Skippers were ranked No. 2 in the latest coaches poll, and Orono was the Wright County Conference champion.
If those two teams win their matches Friday Tigers would face the Spartans again after losing to them 6-1 in late September.
The regular season is in the past now, though, and all the Tigers can do is give their opponent the best shot they can. The semifinals start 9 a.m. Tuesday, with the championship and third-place matches to follow.
“We just have to be positive,” Hantge said. “and set your mind that you’re going to get the next point every time.”
Hutchinson 7, New Ulm 0 (Oct. 1)
Singles — 1. Haley Knorr (H) over Makiah Otto 6-0, 6-1; 2. Britta Johnson (H) over Abby Hietala 6-1, 6-1; 3. Alex Hantge (H) over Madia Emerson 6-1, 6-1; 4. Sabrina Tracy (H) over Lydia King 6-0, 6-0
Doubles — 1. Ellie Campbell/Maggie Eckhart (H) over Bethany Jenssen/Lauren Mager 6-1, 6-0; 2. Meredith Girard/Paige Telecky (H) over Gabby Sammour/Emily Guggisberg 6-0, 6-0; 3. Hannah Ladwig/Avarie Petersen (H) over Neveah Ubi/Marissa Todasco 6-1, 6-1
Hutchinson 6, Mankato East 1 (Oct. 3)
Singles — 1. Haley Knorr (H) over Kezia Kim 6-2, 6-3; 2. Katelyn Flatgard (ME) over Britta Johnson 7-5, 6-1; 3. Alex Hantge (H) over Maddie Johansen 6-3, 7-5; 4. Sabrina Tracy (H) over Arika Kleinschmidt 6-1, 6-1
Doubles — 1. Ellie Campbell/Maggie Eckhart (H) over Sydney Dressen/Jadyn Weckwerth 6-2, 6-1; 2. Meredith Girard/Paige Telecky (H) over Adriana Kleinschmidt/Hannah Rigdon 6-1, 6-1; 3. Hannah Ladwig/Avarie Petersen (H) over Kamy Bartolo/Makena Wassman 7-5, 4-6, 6-0