The Magic tennis team is familiar with this position. What has changed though, is the attitude, and the confidence.
For the third straight year, Monticello has made it to the section semifinals. But for the first time, they aren’t just happy to be there. Instead, the Magic will travel back up to Sartell Friday, eyeing advancement to their first-ever section final.
The Magic earned their third straight trip to the semifinals with two convincing wins in Sartell last Friday.
In the section opener, second-seeded Monticello dispatched of Sartell with ease, winning 7-0. The Magic won all 14 sets in the opening match. In singles, they dropped just seven games, while winning 56.
In the second match, they squared off with an improved Becker squad. The Magic beat the Bulldogs 6-1 earlier this season, but Bordwell expected more of a test on Friday. Becker did push the Magic a little more, but Monticello remained in control, sweeping singles and cruising to a 5-2 win. All four singles matches were won in straight sets, while the No. 3 doubles team of Taylor Arthur and Myranda Anderson also won in straight sets.
Coach Jeff Bordwell said the experience of the girls shone through as they came out and took care of business in the opening rounds.
“It was a dominating performance,” he said. “It’s an older group. There were no jitters, there was nothing like that. They’ve been there before, and that really helps.”
For the girls, it was just another step toward accomplishing their final goal of the season, advancing to the first-ever section final.
“We went into it ready and focused,” said Grace Sawatzke. “We were determined to win.”
Now the Magic turn their eyes to Bemidji, the No. 1 seed in the North subsection and Monticello’s next opponent.
While the Magic lost to one common opponent, Alexandria, that Bemidji beat, the Magic are confident this is a winnable match.
“I think it’s going to be a very good match,” said Bordwell. “It’s not like we’re walking in thinking we have no chance. I think we’re as good as they are.”
In their last couple section trips, Monticello was happy to get to the semifinal. This year, with a senior-laden team, that isn’t the case anymore.
“In previous years, we knew we could do it, but we knew we’d have to play out of our minds,” said Sawatzke. “This year, we’re still going to have to play really well, but we know we have a chance.”
Top singles player Alex Revenig agreed.
“I think it’s going to come down to who comes ready to play,” she said. “We both have good players.”
If Monticello is able to pull off the upset, they’ll likely earn one more shot at St. Cloud Tech, a dominant program that has long had Monticello’s number. Tech plays Brainerd in the other semifinal, and is expected to advance to the Friday night final.
Monticello fell to Tech 5-2 earlier this season, the most competitive match they’ve played with the Tigers in recent years.
“In the years past, whenever we played Tech, it was kind of like let’s just hope we don’t lose 0-7,” said Sawatzke. “This year, we have some confidence. They might beat us 9 out of 10 times, but we might beat them that one day if we play our best.”
Monticello will take their shot at earning one more chance against Tech when they take on Bemidji at 1 p.m. Friday. The winner will advance to the section final, which is scheduled to begin at six Friday night. The matches will be played at Fitness Evolution in Sartell.
Revenig, Sawatzke stay alive in individual play
Individual section play also got under way in Sartell last weekend.
In the doubles bracket, both Monticello teams won their first game, before bowing out in the second round. Brooke Volpone and Anne Dockendorf cruised past a team from Willmar, 6-1, 6-1, before being eliminated in two sets by Becker’s top tandem.
Christine Lui and Kendra Stoick didn’t drop a single game in their first match, winning 6-0, 6-0. But they also fell in the second round, losing 6-3, 6-1 to the eventual runners-up from St. Cloud Tech.
In singles play, Revenig and Sawatzke were both able to extend their season to this weekend.
Revenig, the second seed in the south subsection, picked up a 6-1, 6-1 first round win over her Willmar opponent and a 6-2, 6-0 second round win over an opponent from Becker.
Fourth-seeded Sawatzke was equally convincing in her opening victories. The senior picked up a 6-1, 6-0 win over her Rocori opponent in the opening round, before adding a 6-2, 6-0 win over a Becker opponent in round two.
Both Revenig and Sawatzke would fall in the semifinals, with Sawatzke losing 6-4, 6-0 to eventual subsection champion Taylor Tarrolly from Tech and Revenig falling 6-1, 6-1 to Tarrolly’s younger sister, but with their opening two wins, they were already guaranteed advancement to the final eight this weekend.
To finalize seeding, Sawatzke and Revenig met in the third place match. Revenig won, 6-3, 6-0, earning the third seed in the subsection.
As the South’s fourth seed, Sawatzke will take on the No. 1 seed from the North in the quarterfinal match Saturday. Revenig will take on the No. 2 seed from the North. Despite being the lower seeds, both girls are entering their matches with confidence, and for good reason.
“The draws are not bad for either one of them,” said Bordwell. “The draw that Alex gets is a girl Grace beat earlier in the year, and the draw Grace gets is a girl that Alex beat in a scrimmage earlier this year.”
Sawatzke said they don’t spend too much time concerning themselves with the opponent.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” she said. “We just show up and play the best we can play.”
If either of them wins their first match, they’ll be guaranteed two more matches. If they finish in the top two, they’ll earn a berth in the state tournament.
Individual play begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Fitness Evolution in Sartell.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at firstname.lastname@example.org