The Northfield girls tennis team battled through elongated rallies and prolonged games and sets Tuesday afternoon to defeat Winona 5-2 at Northfield High School.

Yet again, it was a sweep of all three doubles courts the helped the Raiders. At the No. 1 position, sophomores Gabbi Grant and Courtney Graff combined for a 6-2, 6-0 victory.

"Courtney and Gabbi were sharp as usual, and they've been sharp all year long and are continuing to play well for us," Northfield coach Mark Johnson said.

The No. 2 duo of seniors Annika Richardson and Solvei Christopherson battled back from a deficit in the second set to secure a 6-1, 7-5 decision.

"Annika and Solvei were down 3-0 in the second set and came back to win 7-5, so that was a good win for them," Johnson said. "They've been a really solid team for us there."

Then, seniors Jenna Woitalla and Lynette Ott sprinted to a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 3 doubles.

The Raiders picked up the required singles points from senior Caroline Ash at No. 2 singles and sophomore Marie Labenski at No. 3 singles.

Ash fought for a 6-4, 6-4 win that secured to match-clinching fourth point for Northfield.

"Caroline had a good match giving us our fourth point when it was kind of tight there," Johnson said. "She finished pretty strong. She got the first set and then got up to a good lead in the second."

Labenski, meanwhile, won 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 at No. 3 singles.

"Once she got that tiebreaker she really got some momentum going," Johnson said. "Those tiebreakers are fun to win and tough to lose, and Marie was consistent against a really good player."

At No. 1 singles, senior Libby Brust was defeated 7-6 (7-5), 6-1, while sophomore Izzy Balvin dropped a 6-2, 6-3 match at No. 4 singles.

"Really, all four singles matches had extremely long, long rallies, so it was tough to win a point," Johnson said. "You really had to have some strategy and figure out what to do. In specific spots Winona really made us work hard and there weren't any free points. A lot of long rallies and good tennis and Winona certainly had a really good team."

Northfield will close the regular season Thursday at Austin with a chance to secure third place in the Big 9 Conference behind Rochester Mayo and Rochester Century.

Reach Sports Editor Michael Hughes at 645-1106 or follow him on Twitter @NFNewsSports. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved. 

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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