Rhinelander’s Alex Oestreich returns a serve during a girls’ tennis match against Ashland at Wausau West High School Tuesday, Aug. 20. Oestreich, and No. 1 doubles partner Jackie Wells, went 5-0 over the two-day Wausau Invite. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
8/22/2019 7:32:00 AM Hodag tennis goes 4-1 in Wausau Invite
With only half of its lineup from last year back on the court, the Rhinelander High School girls' tennis team nearly got off to the same start it did a year ago.
The Hodags had winning records in six of the seven flights and went 4-1 overall in the two-day Wausau Invite that concluded Tuesday. The Hodags were a whisker away from going undefeated, but fell to host Wausau West 4-3 in Tuesday's final match.
Rhinelander opened play with three duals on Monday, defeating D.C. Everest 7-0, Great Northern Conference rival Wausau Newman 6-1 and Menomonie 5-2. The Hodags opened with a 6-1 victory over Ashland on Tuesday.
"Overall, I am pleased with our play," coach Bob Heideman said. "The five matches showed some strengths and things we need to spend some time on."
Rhinelander was strongest in doubles, going 14-1 over the tournament. Ironically, the one loss proved to be the closest match that did not go the Hodags' way in the Wausau West dual. Lisa White and Kathryn Borski fell at No. 2 doubles to Mallory Names and Madeleine Bizjak, 7-5, 7-5.
The new No. 1 doubles tandem of Alex Oestreich and Jackie Wells went 5-0 together and were pushed a couple of times in the tournament. The tandem won a super tiebreaker over Wausau Newman's Julia Welter and Ali Bennett 6-3, 6-7, 10-3 on Monday and needed a second-set tiebreaker to get past Menomonie's Carly Witucki and Olivia Klass 6-1, 7-6. Wells and Oestreich fell behind 4-1 in their first set Tuesday against Ashland's Maddie Clevette and Abby Davidson, but rallied back to win 7-5, 6-4.
Izzy Haverkampf and Jaiden Thiel rolled in the third doubles flight. Their closest match was a 7-5, 6-2 win over Menomonie's Brooke Evan and Lindsay Kaufman.
"Jackie and Alex, right now what I like is they play through their droughts pretty well," coach Bob Heideman noted. "Izzy and Jaiden enjoy playing with each other and they have played some steady tennis over the two days."
Sophomore Kaylee Pontell, a 27-match winner and sectional runner-up last year at the No. 4 singles flight, has moved up to No. 3 and finished the tournament 5-0. That included a pair of gritty wins on Tuesday as she fended off Ashland's Mara Pierce (6-4, 3-6, 10-8) and Wausau West's Ruby Edmondson (6-3, 2-6, 10-7) in super tiebreakers.
"Kaylee actually struggled on Tuesday and pulled out two 3 set wins," Heideman said. "It's a good sign when you're not playing your best tennis and you can still pull out matches."
Kenedy Van Zile went 4-1 for the Hodags at No. 2 singles. The No. 2 doubles squad of White and Borski also went 4-1. The fourth singles flight was split between junior Kat Metropulos and freshman Taylor Riopel. Metropulos went 2-1 in her matches, the long defeat came in a supertiebreaker against Menomonie's Haley Hastings (4-6, 6-4, 10-8). Riopel went 1-1 in her two matches. Sophomore Annika Johnson went 1-4 in the top flight, including a supertiebreaker loss to Menomonie's Olivia Leipnitz.
The match against D.C. Everest was the easiest of the five, as the Hodags combined to drop only five games in the seven matches. The win against Newman, though it did not count in the standings, was an early statement win in the Great Northern Conference. Newman was thought to be a darkhorse pick in the GNC with the majority of its team returning, but defending D2 state champ Mia Larrain has opted to play the club circuit and has not returned, according to Heideman.
Rhinelander took six of seven matches against Wausau West in a scrimmage Saturday, but the Warriors were missing a couple of players, most notably reigning Wisconsin Valley Conference No. 2 singles champion Lilia Teske. She was back in the lineup Tuesday and defeated Van Zile in straight sets.
The Hodags kick off GNC play this afternoon at Marshfield Columbus and will be home tomorrow for a triangular meet with Merrill and Ironwood, Mich. Tomorrow's matches begin at 9 a.m. on the RHS tennis courts. It's part of a busy first two weeks of the schedule for the Hodags.
"With seven days of competition, the challenge for the next two weeks is to get better thru competition because there are only two days of practice during that stretch," Heideman said.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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