October 20, 2011 at 9:55 a.m.
Although the team had already lost in the section quarterfinals to Forest Lake, the Chisago Lakes girls tennis team still had six individuals to count on in the individual subsection tournament that began last week.
Sami Hindt was the top-seeded Wildcat in the individual tournament, with a fifth spot ranking. She took on the 12th seeded girl in the first round and actually struggled a bit in the opening set, winning only 7-6.
At the last moment, the meet was shifted indoors due to inclimate weather, and Hindt happened to fall on the one court in the Spring Lake Park dome that was right next to the one and only cheering section for four courts. "There was parents and players from every school that were literally feet from her," Head Coach Corey McKinnon said. "It took her a bit to get a feel for the match, but she did a good job eventually focusing on her game and relaxing."
Hindt showed that she had grown accustomed to the crowd noise when she blasted through the second set 6-0 en route to the win.
In the second round, she ran into Destiny Lee of Andover, one of the top players in the section. "The top four girls in this are just next level players," McKinnon explained. "We knew Lee was a top tier player."
But, Hindt didn't shy away from the battle playing aggressive and making Lee beat her with some impressive shots. Lee ended up winning 6-1, 6-1.
"Sami went in there with a good mindset, and she gained a vision of what she wants to aspire to in her tennis career," McKinnon said.
The other singles representative for Chisago Lakes was senior Kailee Carlson. She was the 11th seed and was paired up against Ann Hunt, St. Francis' top singles player.
Carlson held her own in the first set, losing 6-4, but she had a tough time in the second set, losing 6-0, despite playing pretty good. "I've seen that girl from St. Francis play plenty of times," McKinnon explained. "And that was one of the best matches she has played. Kailee was consistent, but her opponent just didn't miss, and there wasn't much she could do."
With the singles players knocked out, it fell on the doubles pairs. They were seeded similar, but unfortunately, had a similar result.
Jaci Vitali and Alli Mohr were seeded fifth and blasted through their first round opponents from North Branch, 6-2, 6-0.
In the second round, they went against a Forest Lake duo that eventually made it to semi-finals. Although Vitali and Mohr would get points here and there, they could never string points together, and even when it did feel like they'd start getting on a roll, the Forest Lake pair would answer right back.
After the match, there were some emotional moments between Mohr and Vitali. The two have played almost exclusively together the last two years, but Mohr is a senior, and it was their last match together. "That was probably the toughest part about that match, watching them play for the last time together," McKinnon said.
At the other doubles spot, seniors Shannon Sullivan and Ashley Paul nearly pulled a big upset over the sixth seeded team from Elk River. "I would've paid to watch the match those two girls played," McKinnon said. "They absolutely gave Elk River a fit."
The Elk River tandem came out firing the ball as hard as possible and were finding spots and forcing Sullivan and Paul into mistakes.
After losing the first set 6-2, McKinnon told the girls on the changeover to just get a racket on the balls that Elk River was blasting, and that power would be used against the Elks.
The girls heeded the advice and started to swing the tide, forcing mistakes from the Elks.
The Wildcats stuck to that gameplan and topped them in the second set 6-4.
In the opening part of the third set, it was a seesaw battle as each team held serve at 3-3, but Elk River managed to sweep the last three points and take the set 6-3 and move on in the bracket.
"Even at 5-3, the girls didn't give up," McKinnon said. "With Shannon serving, the point was on deuce for about eight chances before Elk River closed out the match."
That Elk River pair ended up beating a three seed and a two seed in the next two rounds to make it to the semi-finals.
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