Christian wins 2nd match at state

Published 8:47 pm Thursday, October 25, 2012

Claire Christian hits a ball during the Minnesota State High School League’s state tennis tournament Thursday. -- Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS – United South Central’s Claire Christian made her first ever state appearance Thursday at the Minnesota State High School League Class A tennis tournament.

Christian played two matches during the tournament at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center and won the second to advance in the consolation part of the tournament.

In her first match, Christian faced Jessamy Jones of East Grand Forks. Christian, a junior at USC and 24-4 in the regular season, lost 6-2, 6-2 to Jones, a senior who was 32-0 on the season.

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The loss didn’t phase or discourage Christian who walked off the court with a smile.

“I’m just excited to be here,” she said. “It’s a great experience.”

Rebels’ head coach Jill Bailey said it was anticipated that Jones would be a defensive player who would stay consistent through the match and wait for Christian to make an error.

Claire Christian reaches out to return a ball to her second opponent of the day, Ellen Stensrud of Minnewaska Area. -- Brandi Hagen/Albert Lea Tribune

Christian did make errors, but felt her approach was strong and gained noticeable confidence as the day wore on.

“I’m surprised that she doesn’t appear in the least bit nervous,” Bailey said. “Usually you have to fight those jitters so this is great.”

Christian brought her confidence back to her afternoon match against Ellen Stensrud, a junior from Minnewaska Area High School and walked away with a 6-2, 6-0 win.

“Claire wanted to rush things at the start, but at the changeover I just said we need to play smart and when something good happens, get jacked up about it,” Bailey said.

Christian did. With every point she scored, she turned her back to the net and her opponent and clenched her fist in celebration.

“I was fighting for it,” Christian said. “I wanted to win this one.”

She said she wasn’t as worried about the first match as she was the second because in the first one she would have been in a league of stronger players. In the second, she felt she had a chance of doing better.

“Either way I would have been happy,” Christian said.

Christian said she had strong approach shots again in the second match and also improved on her serves.

“The match went really good,” Christian said. “I’m really proud of myself.”

With her win in the second match, Christian advanced to the consolation tournament which took place at 8 a.m. today.

“This is great,” Bailey said. “I was just so happy for Claire that she got here and now she’s going into the second day. That’s a good thing.

Christian played against Eva Sullivan of Providence Academy. Last year Sullivan was on the Class A doubles team that won the state championship.

See Sunday’s paper to see how Christian did.