The first day of the badminton tournament has the top four seeds hosting three other teams. Two sets of matches start around 4 pm; the two winners see each other at 5 pm. Things went according to seed except with #9 Como Park sweeping #8 Eden Prairie at Johnson in the opening round. The final four teams heading to the semifinals tomorrow at Edina were also the four hosts—Johnson, Highland Park, Burnsville, and Edina. This marks the first time in ten years that the same two Suburban schools crashed the St. Paul dominated final four.
My destination was at #3 Burnsville for one prime reason: to see the projected battle of the #2 (Maddie Blackbourn, Burnsville) and #3 (Kanlaya Thao, Harding) ranked singles players in the state.
The Blaze dispatched #14 Roosevelt 7-0, Harding stopped #11 Humboldt for the third time this year. The Knights won today 6-1. Last Monday the two players met on the same court with Blackbourn rallying from down one set and down 18-13 in the second to claim victory. Today she accomplished the win in two sets. Sh, e needed another rally in the second set, this time down four, but finished strong with two runs on her last two services. On top of that Blackbourn’s win was the critical fourth victory for the Blaze in the team count. This match up was a preview of a state semifinal on Thursday perhaps. Today’s action had that intensity and pop.
Blackbourn kept Thao from a run in the first set, a crucial difference between the two. Blackbourn only had one in the first set, but it was a fiver pushing her lead out to 12-6. Thao was unable to generate much off her serve. Blackbourn had a dozen points off serve in this set, while Thao managed to reach four. Winners also went heavily for Blackbourn with 14 in the first set to six. Six also was the number of Blackbourn smashes including the final two points.
Thao’s offensive game came to life a bit more in the second set with 12 winners. Blackbourn was consistent with another 14 winners, and another six smashes. Neither player was air tight on siding out with both under fifty percent for the day. Blackbourn’s ability to squeeze out more runs proved to be the difference. Thao led 10-7 when Blackbourn got her second run, with all three points coming on smashes, the last and eleven stroker. Thao responded with four straight of her own. That would be her largest lead. After both players traded side outs, Blackbourn had her biggest run of the day with six on eighth service. Thao placed two well placed drops to tie it at 17. Blackbourn blocked on the fourth stroke for the side out. Next came a five stroke cross court drop. A bird was just outside the lines on the two stroke, and then Blackbourn closed the match with a nine stroke smash.
|Longest side out string||2||1|
|Longest point string||5||4|
|First serve||1, 2|
|Point generated off serve||.595||.433|
|Points after 11||21||13|
|Points after own errors||7||6|
|Winners after own errors||6||0|
|Strokes per point||4.143||4.100|
|5+ rallies (%)||12||12|
|2- rallies (%)||11||10|
|Even Stroke Winners||13||8|
|2nd Stroke Winners||4||3|
|Odd Stroke Winners||15||11|
|Even stroke errors||2||9|
|2nd stroke errors||2||4|
|Odd stroke errors||9||5|
|Largest Lead||8, 4||1, 4|
|Set Point %||2/2-1.000|
The doubles will come later tomorrow. (Spoiler alert Harding won in two).