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September 22, 2019

Rhinelander’s Kenedy Van Zile prepares to serve during a girls’ tennis match against Ironwood, Mich. at the RHS tennis courts Friday, Aug. 23. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
Rhinelander’s Kenedy Van Zile prepares to serve during a girls’ tennis match against Ironwood, Mich. at the RHS tennis courts Friday, Aug. 23. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
8/27/2019 7:32:00 AM
Hodag tennis wins triangular, finishes first week of season 7-1

Jeremy Mayo
Sports Editor

The Rhinelander High School girls' tennis team finished a successful first week of the season in style Friday.

Following a sweep the night before at Marshfield Columbus to open Great Northern Conference play, the brooms were out again Friday as the Hodags took a pair of 8-0 victories over Ironwood, Mich. and Merrill in the Hodag triangular at the RHS tennis courts.

The wins brought the Hodags to 7-1 at the close of a busy first week of matches.

"We are very pleased with our results," coach Bob Heideman said. "Ironwood is an improved team and as a team we just seemed to step it up a notch against Merrill, which of course is good because they are in our subsectional."

At the top of the lineup, Annika Johnson moved back to .500 on the season at 4-4 with a couple of straight set wins. Johnson defeated Ironwood's Zaida Lagalo, 6-2, 6-1 in the opening match and then added a 6-0, 6-2 win over Merrill's Amelia Skoviera.

"Annika had her best outing and combined with her win at Columbus she has put together a three-match win streak," Heideman said. "Her serve has gotten steadily more consistent and she is developing points better."

Heideman also pointed out sophomore Kaylee Pontell's play in singles as she knocked off previously unbeaten Kamille Ament of Merrill in straight sets 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3 singles. Pontell was a 6-1, 6-0 winner over Ironwood's Lexi Holm earlier in the day.

"She successfully added some coming to the net points," Heideman said.

Kenedy Van Zile won both of her matches at No. 2 singles. Kat Metropulos defeated Faith Grewe 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4 singles against Ironwood while freshman Taylor Riopel jumped into the fourth flight against Merrill and defeated Angela Hinner, 6-0, 6-0.

The Hodags had a copy/paste kind of day in the top three doubles flights. Jackie Wells and Alex Oestreich, Lisa White and Kathryn Borski, and Izzy Haverkampf and Jadien Thiel were all 6-1, 6-0 winners over Ironwood and came back for 6-1, 6-1 wins over Merrill.

"Jackie and Alex had the best match against Merrill," Heideman said. "They cut down on mistakes and were sharp at the net."

Welcoming a team from Michigan, the Hodags decided to play the Michigan format for a dual meet, with a fourth doubles match counting toward the final score. Junior Alexis Engelking and freshman Paige Oleinik defeated Ironwood's Annika Anderson and Luci Lanzon, 6-0, 6-0 in the first match and then took a pro set from Merrill's Zoey Derikson and Kendra Petrowski, 8-0 in the second match.

"Alexis and Paige are getting more and more comfortable with our doubles system," Heideman said. "These early season varsity doubles matches have been very valuable for them."

The Hodags were back in action Monday in a quadrangular at Wisconsin Rapids that concluded after deadline. Rhinelander returns to Great Northern Conference play this afternoon as it hosts Medford at the RHS tennis courts.

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at

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