Brills comes up short in repeat bid

To win the state singles title last year, Mounds View High School's Summer Brills played nearly seven hours of tennis on the final day of the tournament. On the last day of this year's state tournament last week, Brills appeared determined to make quick work of winning it all.

After breezing through her semifinal match and the first set of the finals last Friday at the Baseline Tennis Center, Brills was cruising. That cruise became bumpy, however, and Brills ended up finishing second.

Edina junior Caitlyn Merzbacher, who transferred from Ohio when he father Chuck became the head women's tennis coach at the University of Minnesota, prevented Brills from successfully defending her state championship by winning a three-set marathon 1-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Merzbacher barely survived the semifinals, needing three sets to dispatch Minnetonka eighth-grader Isabella Lambert, who handed Brills her only loss during the regular season. Because of the length of that match, Merzbacher was given extra time prior to the finals, which started an hour later than scheduled.

Early on in the finals, it looked as if the extra hour wouldn't be enough. Brills opened the match by breaking Merzbacher's serve and did it two more times in the set.

Merzbacher returned the favor in the second set, breaking Brills three times.

While the first two sets went by fairly quickly, the third set turned out to be a classic. Merzbacher jumped out to a 4-1 lead before Brills got on a roll of her own. She rattled off four straight games to go move one game away from a repeat.

That final game never materialized for Brills, however, as Merzbacher recovered and won the final three games to claim the championship.

Merzbacher ended up doing to Brills what Brills did to Edina's Sophia Reddy last year. Brills survived a three-set semifinal marathon and then won the final in three sets in 2012.

In addition to giving her the state championship, Merzbacher's victory avenges her loss to Brills back in early September.

Mounds View freshman Alexandra Kopiecki also played to the final round of the singles tournament. After losing in the first round to Merzbacher, Kopiecki won twice to get to the consolation final.

Kopiecki then dropped a two-set decision 6-7 (5-7), 0-6 to Blake junior Jane Fraley and settled for sixth place.

Team tournament

The final against Merzbacher completed a whirlwind week of tennis for Brills. Prior to the two days of the singles tournament, Brills and her Mounds View teammates played in the Class AA team tournament.

Mounds View was making its seventh consecutive appearance in the state team tournament. The Mustangs' stay in the team portion lasted only one day as they went 0-2 on day one of the competition.

Unseeded Mounds View faced second-seeded Minnetonka in the first round and fell 5-2. The Mustangs got their two points via straight-set victories by Brills and Kopiecki. Minnetonka won four of its points in straight-set victories. The only match that went three sets was the No. 3 doubles match as Mounds View's Claire Chen and Sarah Conlin-Brandenberg split the first two sets and then lost a first-to-10 super tiebreaker.

Minnetonka went on to beat Prior Lake 4-3 in the semifinals before falling 5-2 to Edina in the finals. With the victory, Edina secured its 17th consecutive state team championship.

In the consolation semifinals, Mounds View dropped a 4-3 decision to unseeded Mahtomedi, which lost to third-seeded Prior Lake in the first round. Brills and Kopiecki joined Lexi Pfenning as singles-match winners against Mahtomedi.

The Zephyrs followed up their win over Mounds View with a 4-3 loss to St. Cloud Tech in the consolation championship.

Class AA girls tennis state tournament
Team results
Quarterfinals

Edina 6, Duluth East 1
Rochester Mayo 7, St. Cloud Tech 0
Minnetonka 5, Mounds View 2
Prior Lake 6, Mahtomedi 1

Semifinals

Edina 7, Rochester Mayo 0
Minnetonka 4, Prior Lake 3

Consolation semifinals
St. Cloud Tech 5, Duluth East 2
Mahtomedi 4, Mounds View 3

Championship

Edina 5, Minnetonka 2

Third-place

Rochester Mayo 5, Prior Lake 2

Consolation

St. Cloud Tech 4, Mahtomedi 3

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