Medford could not slow down the Rhinelander High School girls' tennis team on Thursday. Mother Nature couldn't do it, either.
The Hodags swept singles and then waited out a weather delay to finish off a 7-0 victory over the Raiders at the RHS tennis courts. The win moved Rhinelander to 2-0 in Great Northern Conference play, 8-1 overall.
The dual was already decided when the weather intervened. Five matches were already settled in the Hodags' favor, and Rhinelander was up a set in the other two when thunderstorms in the vicinity forced the players off the court for roughly an hour. It never rained and the Hodags were able to finish the match promptly once the all clear was given.
In a strategy Medford has utilized against Rhinelander countless times in the past, the Raiders placed their best players at Nos. 1 and 2 doubles. Not by coincidence, those were the two matches that went the longest and were affected by the weather delay.
"Medford put its best players in doubles in the hopes of taking some flights but our doubles responded well," coach Bob Heideman said. "The strategic move resulted in some close sets but we were able to stick with it long enough to win them."
Alex Oestreich and Jackie Wells had won the first set for Rhinelander at No. 1, 6-4, against Medford's Lauryn Strick and Elaine Schumacher, and were on serve at 2-3 in the second, when the order was given to clear the courts for safety concerns.
After the delay, the Rhinelander tandem rallied to take the second set, 7-5.
"Jackie and Alex had two close sets," Heideman said. "The second one they played from behind until the end where they put two good games together. Jackie and Alex can hit the ball hard enough to give people problems but sometimes they have troubles of their own keeping it between the lines. I think the thunder breaks helped out. We came back after the second one and ran the two games pretty easily."
After winning the first set over Medford's Brooke Sommer and Kailee Mann, 6-1 at No. 2, the Rhinelander pair of Lisa White and Kathryn Borski were up 5-4 and serving for the match in the second set at the time of the delay. They quickly finished off a 6-4 win once play resumed.
"Lisa and Kathyrn won the first 6-1 (and then) got quickly down 0-3 in the second," Heideman said. "They split games and got it to 1-4, then ran five games. That was a nice comeback. Medford's lobs gave them some problems for a while."
Jadien Thiel and Izzy Haverkampf were done before the storms for Rhinelander, defeating Cassidy Balciar and Maddy Spencer, 6-1, 6-2 in the third flight.
All of the singles matches were won handily by the Hodags. Annika Johnson and Kaylee Pontell were 6-0, 6-0 winners at the Nos. 1 and 3 flights, respectively. Kenedy Van Zile was a 6-1, 6-2 winner at No. 2 and Taylor Riopel won 6-1, 6-1 at No. 4.
Tuesday marked the second straight day that weather interfered with the Hodags' plans. The quadrangular meet the team was scheduled to take part in Monday in Wisconsin Rapids was canceled due to rain.
The Hodags are back in action this afternoon in a GNC dual at Phillips and will head to Wausau West tomorrow and Saturday for a two-day invite.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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