Rhinelander’s Bridger Flory hits a return during a match against Wausau West at the Wausau West tennis courts Friday, April 5. Flory and No. 3 doubles teammate Billy Berwig went 3-0 Friday as the Hodags won two of their three matches at the Wausau Invite. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
4/9/2019 7:30:00 AM Hodag tennis goes 2-1 in Wausau
WAUSAU - Strong doubles play carried the Rhinelander High School boys' tennis team Friday as it went 2-1 in the Wausau Invite.
The Hodags went 7-2 in doubles matches on the day, which helped carry the team to 5-2 wins over Wausau West and Eau Claire North. The Hodags fell 4-3 to Pulaski in a dual that came down to a three-set tiebreaker.
Rhinelander got three matches in despite a weather-plagued weekend. The start of Friday's matches were delayed as the courts dried from a dusting of snow the previous night. Rhinelander was to have played two more matches Saturday, but the second day of the tournament was scrapped due to rain.
"Definitely a step up from Thursday's match," coach Bob Heideman said, referencing the Hodags' season-opening 5-2 win at Pacelli. "We won three out of four three-set matches which is always a good sign. Beginning to see a better picture of what we have as a team."
Rhinelander's No. 3 doubles team of senior Bridger Flory and sophomore Billy Berwig was the only squad to make it through the day undefeated, and even that took a couple of close sets. Against Pulaski, the pairing edged out a 7-6, 6-4 win over Nick Diegenthale and Nick Symons. Flory and Berwig then rallied in three sets to beat Eau Claire North's Gavin Gamroth Isaac Lashey 5-7, 6-2, 7-4.
"Bridger was a late addition to the team this year but he has proved a valuable one," Heideman said. "He and Billy went 3-0 for the day, with a meet-ending, in the dark, come-from-behind, three-set tiebreak win. Down 2-4 in the third set (tiebreaker), they ran off five straight points to seal the win. Billy is an athlete and he uses that to cover the court and get balls."
Connor Young and Logan Oestreich went 2-1 at No. 1 doubles with wins over Wausau West and Eau Claire North. Freshmen Luke Ring and Elijah Evers were 2-1 at No. 2 doubles, defeating Wausau West and Pulaski. Ring and Evers held on in a third-set super tiebreaker to beat Pulaski's Hunter Downey and George Hunt, 6-4, 3-6, 10-7.
"Luke and Elijah showed more glimpses of the skills they have," Heideman noted. "We expect that trend to get only better."
The Hodags switch their singles lineup, flopping Jacob Weddle and Russell Benoy in the top two flights. Weddle, a sophomore getting his first taste of No. 1 singles, went 2-1 on the day. His lone loss was a straight-set defeat to Wausau West senior Luke Bailey, who made it to the round of 32 at the WIAA Division 1 state singles tournament last year. Weddle defeated Pulaski's Dylan Tousey 6-4, 6-3 and Eau Claire North's Chase Donaldson, 6-1, 6-2.
"Jacob, who we moved up, is discovering there is a big range of players at No. 1, but he belongs," Heideman said.
Benoy was 1-2 on the day at No. 2 singles - his lone win coming in a super tiebreaker over Wausau West's Will Brown 5-7, 6-4, 12-10. Freddy Winter was 2-1 at No. 3 singles.
"Freddy is proving to be a notch steadier than last year," Heideman said.
Ian Conkey split his matches at No. 4 singles, falling to Wausau West and defeating Eau Claire North. Junior Bryan La was put in to the fourth flight against Pulaski and ended up dropping what proved to be the deciding match of the dual in a third-set tiebreaker. He lost to Ben Thomas, 6-3, 3-6, 7-10.
Rhinelander (3-1, 1-0 Great Northern) travels to Medford for an GNC dual Tuesday.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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