Austin trio takes one step closer to state

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 11, 2002

The season for the ninth-rated Austin girls' tennis team was ended by rival Rochester Mayo in the finals of the Section 1A team tournament, but a handful of Packer seniors have kept their state hopes alive.

Amy Kelly, Caitlin Jurgensen and Katie Erickson advanced through the individual sub-sections Thursday in Owatonna. Kelly was seeded second in the singles competition, where she reached the finals before falling in straight sets to top-seed Christina Keesey from Northfield.

Erickson and Jurgensen, Austin's No. 2 and 3 singles players throughout the regular-season, teamed up in doubles to take first place coming out of the sub-section.

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All three Austin competitors resume play Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Rochester Athletic Club, where the Section 1AA finals will take place. Of eight section qualifiers, the top two singles players and two doubles teams will advance to state, where last year the Packers sent four players.

Only Kelly, who went 1-1 on Thursday, is back from that corps of state-tournament players. Kelly and Laurie Alonso, now playing at UW-Eau Claire, won the Class AA state doubles title two seasons ago and were runners-up last year. Chelsea McColley and Lindy Swedberg also advanced to state as a doubles tandem.

Kelly defeated Liz Clarke of Northfield, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, in the semifinals before falling to Keesey, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.

In the semifinals, Keesey defeated Austin High junior Steph Bowe who had earlier played in and won her first singles match of the season. Bowe beat Owatonna's Elizabeth Taylor, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, in the quarterfinals.

"That was great for her and she really opened some eyes with her ability to play singles today," said AHS first-year coach Dave Handeland.

Bowe then fell 6-1, 6-3, to Keesey.

Double vision

Erickson and Jurgensen scored the top seed in doubles despite never playing together. The Austin duo dunked a pair from Northfield in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-0, and met Owatonna's Molly Hunt and Kenzie Kath, the No. 2 seeds. The Packer pairing overcame a first-set loss for the 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory.

"In the second (set) they started putting everything they've worked on into use and were able to feed off each other and win," Coach Handeland said.

Seniors Claire Johnson and Noelle Wiebelhaus opened the postseason with a 6-4, 6-2 win in the quarterfinals against a pair from Northfield. Johnson and Wiebelhaus had their careers ended, however, by Hunt and Kath, 6-2, 6-2, in the semifinals of doubles competition. The Austin duo, playing No. 1 for the Packers most of the season, ended the year 13-8 overall.