Ancele Dolensek and Isabelle Einess are teammates and classmates. The Minnehaha Academy tandem are the top two players in Class 1A. It’s only fitting their season concluded against each other in a tiebreaker.
Dolensek outlasted her fellow sophomore 6-0, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5) in the Class 1A girls’ tennis individual state tournament Friday at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center. Dolensek was ranked second in the final regular season coaches association poll while Einess held down the top spot.
“It is going to go down as one of the classics in state history for girls or boys,” Redhawks coach Jose Williamson said. “It was phenomenal.”
Dolensek, who transferred to Minnehaha Academy from Rochester Century this season, came out playing her best tennis of the season. It didn’t matter if it was on the forehand, backhand, an overhead smash, lob or drop shot, she was precise with every shot in a 6-0 victory in the first set.
“That was the best set I have played all year,” Dolensek said. “Everything was going perfect.”
Einess looked like the top player in the state in the second set, evening things up with a 6-3 victory.
“Izzy never wants to lose,” Williamson said. “I knew she was going to dig in.”
The deciding set turned into a back-and-forth affair as expected. Dolensek was up 6-3 in the tiebreaker, only to see Einess pull within one, prior to her getting match point.
“I was shaking after the match,” Dolensek said. “I am a little dead to be honest.”
The victory for Dolensek avenged a 6-2, 6-0 loss to Einess in the Section 4 finals. Both players finished the season with a 22-1 record.
“I definitely played smarter today,” Dolensek said. “There was no pressure on me either being ranked No. 2.”
Dolensek also became the first state champion in program history with the win.
“They have been sparring with each other all season,” Williamson said. “I could even feel the tension in the third set. I couldn’t believe how well they both were playing.”
Both cruised to straight set victories to reach the finals. Einess beat Lydia Delich of Eveleth-Gilbert 6-0, 6-1 and Dolensek knocked off Ryann Witter of Rochester Lourdes 6-4, 6-0.
In the doubles championship, senior Ellie Pirtle and junior Petra Lyon of Breck rolled to a straight set victory, 6-1, 6-3, over Rochester Lourdes sophomores Taylor Elliott and Elyse Palen.
Pirtle and Lyon also swept senior Britney Prahl and junior Kylie Michels of Litchfield 6-0, 7-5 in the semifinals. The Mustangs’ tandem won all five state tournament matches in straight sets.