The North Branch Viking girls tennis team is going to be a work in progress throughout most of the 2021 season, with very little varsity experience and the ones that have played on the varsity level learning new roles. And based on a frenetic first two weeks of the season, the team needed to dive right in to the deep end rather than dipping their toes in to test the waters.
After just a week of preseason practice, the Vikings jumped right into their competitive season with a pair of matches at the Annandale Triangular held on Saturday, Aug. 21. In their first match, North Branch faced Belle Plaine, who defeated the Vikings 6-1. The lone victory for North Branch came at second doubles, with Carrie Hall and Nora Toussaint winning in three sets by scores of 6-2, 2-6, 11-9. The Vikings came very close to picking up a win at first singles, as Rachel Wurdemann won the first set 4-6, but then lost the second set 7-6 and the third set 10-6.
Their second match was even tougher as host Annandale swept the Vikings 7-0. In that match, the only non-straight sets loss came at first doubles, where Wurdemann was moved to team up with Hailey Bistodeau. The two pushed the Annandale pair to scores of 2-6, 6-1, 10-6.
The team’s hectic start to the season continued on Monday as the Vikings traveled to Mora, taking on the Mustangs, Aitkin, and Cloquet.
North Branch found their first success of the season, topping both Mora and Aitkin in close 4-3d matches before getting shut out by Cloquet 7-0. Rachel Wurdemann at first singles and the doubles team of Justine Joyal and Sophia Helinsky picked up victories in both of the team wins.
The team got an unexpected reprieve from action as their matches against Hermantown and Hibbing were canceled due to Tuesday’s rain.
Finally, North Branch hosted three more teams in Duluth Denfeld, Fridley, and Osseo on Thursday, Aug. 26, after this edition of the Star went to press. They will also face Totino Grace and Blaine on Saturday, Aug. 28 before diving into their one-on-one matches on Tuesday, Aug. 31.