New Richmond's hopes of sixth straight MBC tennis title suffer setback
It became apparent early in the Middle Border Conference girls tennis season that last Thursday's match between New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville would decide the likely champion of the MBC dual meet season.
New Richmond's girls were hoping to add a sixth straight MBC dual meet title to their trophy case this year, but those hopes were extinguished when B-W scored a 6-1 on the Blackhawks' courts.
The Tigers were scheduled to complete their dual meet schedule this week with matches against Amery on Tuesday and at Durand on Thursday. The Tigers will then turn their attention to the Middle Border Conference tournament, which will be played next Tuesday in Durand. The Tigers lost the MBC tournament last year for the first time in a half-dozen years. Since then, returning the tournament trophy to New Richmond has been a driving focus for the Tigers.
Tiger coach Denise Devereux said the loss at B-W was a case of two strong teams that played a gritty battle. The only win the Tigers could muster came at two singles, where junior Mattie Kidder scored a 6-1, 6-1 victory. Nearly all the other matches were close. Both the top flight matches went three sets. New Richmond's Kaycie Anderson won the opening one singles set 6-2, but B-W's Hailey Noha took the final two sets 6-3, 6-3.
In the one doubles match, New Richmond's Maggie Earley and Ali Graff won the opening set 6-3. Katie Thompson and Amanda Meyer of B-W won the final two sets 6-3, 6-2. Devereux said Thompson was one of the pivotal players in this dual match. When these teams met earlier this season, the Tigers won 4-3. Thompson is B-W's second best player, but she couldn't beat Kidder at two singles. So the B-W coaches moved Thompson to one doubles to strengthen their doubles lineup.
Devereux said there was no regret over the loss and the possible end of the Tigers' five-year run as MBC champions.
"The girls gave their all. They tried everything," she said.
Two days earlier the Tigers scored a 7-0 win in a conference match at Unity. While Unity is a young team, the weather provided an extra challenge for the Tigers.
"There were hurricane-force winds," Devereux said. "I was pleased with how the girls didn't let the wind bother them at all."
Unity was able to win just one set from the Tigers. Unity and Baldwin-Woodville have four courts, so both these matches lasted late into the evening. The Tigers' week was ended with another test of their durability, hosting the annual New Richmond Quad Meet on Saturday. The Tigers were joined in the tournament by Rice Lake, Altoona and Superior.
The Tigers were able to win two of their matches on Saturday. They defeated Altoona 4-3 and Superior 7-0, but lost to Rice Lake 5-2.
Anderson and Kidder were used as the Tigers' one doubles team during Saturday's tournament and they were able to win all three of their matches. Devereux said the decision has been made to have Anderson and Kidder compete in doubles during the WIAA tournament series, giving the team's most accomplished players their best chance to advance to the WIAA state championships.
The Tigers were able to win eight of their nine doubles matches during Saturday's play. With Anderson and Kidder moved to the doubles lineup, Heather Halvorsen and Christian Weaver moved from the three and four singles slots to the top of the singles lineup.
"They both stepped up and played well in those upper positions," Devereux said.
The pivotal win for the Tigers against Altoona was produced by senior Abby Berning. Berning won 6-0, 6-0 in the four singles match, to go along with the sweep in the doubles matches.