Season ends for Albert Lea tennis girls

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2003

HUTCHINSON &045; The season officially came to an end for coach Sean Gillam and the Albert Lea High School girls’ tennis team, giving them time to both reflect and look ahead.

It wasn’t the outcome they were hoping for in Saturday’s Section 2AA individual tournament at Hutchinson, where the Tigers won just two matches, but it did nothing to tarnish a memorable year.

&uot;We had a fun trip, and I think the girls are pretty positive about what went on,&uot; said Gillam. &uot;We had a great season, and I think the girls kept that in perspective.&uot;

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It was a breakthrough season for the Tigers, who won 11 dual meets and finished 7-2 in the Big Nine Conference, their best showing in many years. And, with a strong core of young players returning, Gillam is hopeful the momentum will continue.

Becky Birkhofer won her opening match at No. 1 singles, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, rallying from a 1-5 deficit in the third set. Birkhofer, seeded seventh, lost 6-0, 6-1 to the No. 2 seed from New Ulm in the second round.

Karen Leonard, the No. 9 singles seed, won the first set 7-5 and led the second 6-5 against a Worthington opponent before succumbing to an injury that hampered her the latter part of the season.

Ashley Helgerson and Nicole Rafdal, seeded fifth in doubles, defeated a Worthington duo 6-4, 6-3 before falling 6-2, 6-1 to the No. 4 seed from Waseca.

The Tigers’ other doubles entrant, 11th-seeded Kristin Wulff and Amanda Rose, fell 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) to the sixth seed from Marshall.

(Contact Jim Lutgens at or 379-3437.)