Lumberjack Open welcomes regional tennis players for camaraderie and competition

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Jul. 8—BEMIDJI — Skies were blue and full of sparkling sunlight on Saturday at the Bemidji High School tennis courts. But this wasn’t your ordinary weekend at the high school.

The annual Lumberjack Open youth tennis tournament once again descended upon the courts at the high school and Bemidji Middle School, as seven brackets of singles players competed in the latest edition of the annual event.

Four girls divisions (Navy, Silver, Bronze and middle school) and three boys divisions (Navy, Silver and middle school) matched up across town, bringing together players from Bemidji Area Schools as well as far-flung locales like Minot, N.D. It was a celebration of tennis in Bemidji, and the participants were keen to take part.

“I find it really fun to come out in the summer to play tennis,” said Jack McNallan, a rising junior at BHS. “Otherwise I’ll get really, really rusty. So it helps me improve, and it’s fun to see my boys and play some tennis.”

The Lumberjack boys were well represented on the courts Saturday. Joining McNallan on the boys side were high school teammates Ethan Frank, Brooks Johnson and Owen Lappinga.

On the girls side, rising BHS junior Morgan Nyhusmoen won the Silver bracket, defeating Bemidji teammate Lilly Caron 6-4, 6-0 in the championship match.

“I try to work my best and then pretend like I’m playing in the fall,” Nyhusmoen said of her approach. “Just try to work hard. I want to feel confident and good about how I played. … I think it’s really important to be in (summer tournaments). It helps you get prepped for the fall. I like to be in as many as I can.”



Other Bemidji girls players who competed were Megan Berg, Greta Frauenholtz, Elly Hodapp, Madi Jensen, Kendal Midboe, Abby Myhrer and Kaitlyn Workman.

McNallan matched up with Asher Green, a talented player from Grand Forks, N.D., and an eventual Navy bracket finalist, in the semifinals. McNallan gave him a battle, sending both sets to decisive tiebreakers but ultimately falling 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2).

McNallan also showcased some raw power, spiking an overhead net volley out of the court on a bounce. Through trial and error, he also discovered some things he can improve upon.

“It really helps me reflect on my game,” McNallan said. “When I played (Green), I realized my second serve needed tons of work, and then my backhands (as well).”



BHS head coach Kyle Fodness, who ran the event, said it serves as a tentpole of what the grassroots Bemidji Tennis organization tries to accomplish in the summers.

“One (benefit) is really good competition,” Fodness said. “It’s great for the Bemidji players because they don’t have to travel. The other thing is a lot of really good camaraderie. And that’s a really nice thing about a sport like tennis where you’re competing with some of the same kids in high school, but in summer, it’s maybe a little more relaxed.

“You talk to them after matches or before matches and you see a lot of really great connections. A lot of phone numbers are exchanged to go and hit in the summer, to be doubles partners in other tournaments. When you talk about lifelong lessons, that’s a great thing from tennis is you keep those good connections.”

With many local tournaments disappearing in favor of more regimented United States Tennis Association-run events, Fodness is determined to keep the spirit of local competition alive in Bemidji.



“It’s really important for tennis to continue to focus on and do well (at that),” Fodness said. “The focus from communities really needs to be on growing the base of the game, growing a lot of great participation. You’d see that today, where no rankings points were earned. And rankings points are fine. But there was a lot of good tennis, a lot of good competition.

“You come out, you want to compete. You want to have fun. You want to have those good connections. That’s where good community tournaments like this have a great advantage. You can be creative with your scheduling and make sure everybody has a good day of matches. So in communities like our size and smaller, these are such a valuable thing for kids to have, and there has been some good growth of these tournaments recently. And that’s really fun to see, so we hope that trend keeps continuing.”

The tournament returns for its second day with doubles bracket competition taking place starting at 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 9, back at the BHS courts.

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