Chloe Brandt

Chloe Brandt and partner Keely Olness picked up a big win at No. 1 doubles for the Le Sueur-Henderson Giants girls tennis team Monday, as it beat Annandale 4-3 to advance to the Section 2A finals. (Philip Weyhe/Le Sueur County News)

The Le Sueur-Henderson girls tennis team capped a strong season with a second consecutive Section 2A runner-up finish Monday.

In 2018, the Giants were defeated by champions Jordan in the final round of the tournament. This year, Jordan left the section but strong competition in Litchfield and Annandale entered. LS-H was able to fend off the latter Monday morning, but Litchfield, which features two state-ranked singles players, took the championship in the afternoon.

The Giants lost the meet to Litchfield 5-2, which was an improvement from a 6-1 loss during the regular season. There were several tightly contested matches this time around, but Litchfield proved a bit too strong for the Giants, who have won several meets this year, thanks to good depth. Still, coach Linda Seaver was happy with what she saw Monday.

“All of our doubles teams were super close. The second doubles lost in straight sets, but the sets and the games in the match were all very close,” Seaver said. “No. 1 doubles and 3 doubles both won, so to be able to pick up a couple wins — it’s more than what other teams in the section have been able to do against Litchfield, so I think it just shows the improvement we’ve made, the confidence the girls have, the depth we have.”

At No. 1 doubles, Chloe Brandt and Keely Olness finished their team season in style, beating a strong opponent in a close match, 7-5, 6-4. It was a big win for the duo who lost their first match against Litchfield earlier in the season.

Darbi Dunning

Darbi Dunning and partner Morgan Jones were able to win both their matches at No. 3 doubles Monday against Annandale and Litchfield. The team beat the former but lost to the latter in the finals. (Philip Weyhe/Le Sueur County News)

The No. 3 doubles spot is the only place where LS-H was able to win twice against Litchfield this year. It took a third set super tiebreaker this time, but Morgan Jones and Darbi Dunning were able to grab a 6-4, 6-7, 10-8 win.

Elsewhere, the Giants played the section’s top team close. No. 2 doubles Emma Seaver and Anna Pavlo were right there in just about every game of their 4-6, 3-6 loss. And at No. 1 singles, Greta Nesbit did well to keep things close with state ranked Avery Stilwell, losing 4-6, 3-6.

The team loss ended the squad’s season, with just individual playoffs to come.

LS-H 4, Litchfield 3

It came down to the wire in the Giants’ Section 2A semifinals matchup with Litchfield. The Giants needed a win from No. 1 singles player Greta Nesbit, who was last on the court, and she provided just that at 6-2, 6-4.

Greta and Team

Greta Nesbit was greeted by teammates after winning her No. 1 singles match over Annandale, clinching the Section 2A semifinals victory for the Giants. (Philip Weyhe/Le Sueur County News)

“If I had to pick who to put the meet’s hands into, I certainly would’ve picked Greta, because she can play under that kind of pressure. She’s just that solid,” Seaver said.

Before Nesbit had the opportunity to win the meet for the Giants, the No. 1 doubles team of Chloe Brandt and Keely Olness had to fight for a win to even the meet at 3-3. It was looking concerning for a moment, but the duo rebounded after a slow start to the third set and won the match 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“When No. 1 doubles lost the first set, I got a little nervous, and they were even down in the third set,” Seaver said. “They showed great poise.”

Brandt and Olness were elated after their win, knowing during the match how important their outcome would be to the team. For Olness, a senior, it was the last day of team tennis in her career.

“I was excited. I was very excited,” she said. “We knew the score, and we knew the circumstances we were under, but I feel like we work really well under pressure.”

Chloe added, “We took it under consideration that we needed our match, and it made us play extra hard.”

The other winners for the Giants were the No. 2 doubles team of Emma Seaver and Anna Pavlo, who won 6-4, 6-1, and the No. 3 doubles team of Morgan Jones and Darbi Dunning, who won 6-2, 6-2.

Makenna Reinhardt

Makenna Reinhardt swats a forehand during one of her matches Monday. (Philip Weyhe/Le Sueur County News)

The Nos. 2-4 singles players lost their matches against a similarly deep Annandale team.

The Giants finished the season with a winning record, a Minnesota River Conference runner-up and a Section 2A runner-up. Two singles players and two doubles team will begin individual section play on Thursday, starting at 9 a.m. at the Gustavus Adolphus College Swanson Tennis Center.

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