Sectional dogfight; Tigers get doubles team to state, but whole team stays home
New Richmond was able to sweep the doubles championships, but the Tiger boys couldn't catch La Crosse Aquinas for the 2004 WIAA Division 2 New Richmond Sectional Tennis Tournament team championship last Thursday.
New Richmond's top two doubles teams advanced to the WIAA state championship by winning their sectional championships.
The number one singles team of Jeff Engel and Charlie Bohl remained undefeated this season to win the sectional championship. They take an 18-0 record into the state tournament, where they will try to improve on last year's fourth place finish in the Division 2 state tournament.
New Richmond's two doubles team of Dan Bethke and Brian Rehurek also qualified for state with their sectional championship. They carry a 20-5 record to the state tournament.
The battle for the team championship was a two-team tussle, with New Richmond and La Crosse Aquinas starting the day with 24 points each that they'd carried over from the subsectional. While New Richmond was able to dominate the doubles play, Aquinas got points in every flight to edge the Tigers for the team title. With the team sectional championship, Aquinas qualifies to play in the WIAA State Team Tennis Tournament.
New Richmond's qualifiers
Getting Bohl and Engel was a high expectation for the Tigers. They have been the elite doubles team in the area all season and they continued that pattern throughout the sectional meet.
Engel and Bohl locked up a place in the state tournament by zipping past Onalaska Luther in the opening round of the sectional, 6-0, 6-1. The matches in the final rounds of the sectional are primarily done to figure out seeding for the state tournament. In the semifinals Bohl and Engel faced a Viroqua team with a 12-2 record. The Tigers cruised through the opening set 6-0, then hit a rough stretch in the second set, trailing 4-3. They then finished strongly, to win 7-5 and advance to the finals.
In the finals they faced an Aquinas team with a 17-1 record. Aquinas had beaten New Richmond in the sectional final the past two years. This time it was the Tigers' turn. With a good mixture of patience and power, Bohl and Engel were able to complete the championship, winning 6-3, 6-3.
"I didn't feel this result was ever in doubt," said Tiger coach Mike Montello. "They have a goal at state and that is to improve on last year's fourth place finish."
While Bohl and Engel had a relatively smooth time at the sectional, Bethke and Rehurek have made an art form out of winning ugly. They seem to play their best when their backs are against the wall, yet they find ways to pull out the win.
In the sectional semifinal against Aquinas, they trailed in the first set 5-3. They came back to push that set into a tie-breaker, where they pulled out the set.
"They went into a trance in the second set," Montello said, leading to the third set.
In that third set, the teams kept trading games. Then the rains came, forcing a half-hour delay when the two teams were tied at 5-5. In the first game after the delay, Rehurek put together a sharp string of serves and the Tigers were able to win that game. The Tigers then broke Aquinas' serve to win 7-5 and take the match.
There was a break of well over two hours before the championship match was to begin. And this match was just as dramatic as the semifinals.
Bethke and Rehurek again won the first set, playing some of their best tennis in recent weeks. Then again came the swoon in the second set. Eau Claire Regis won the first three games of that set. The Tigers came back again, tying the set at 5-5, only to run their fans through another loop in the emotional roller coaster. They lost the final two games of the set, forcing the match into the third set.
In the third set the Tigers got the lead and held on. They missed out on a chance at match point with a 5-3 lead, but they did finish off the match point chance at 5-4 to earn their way into the state tournament.
"We weren't pretty at times, but we got it done," Montello said. "To make it to state is a big accomplishment for these two."
The Tigers also are sectional champions at three doubles, though this flight does not qualify for the state individual tournament. Robert Rice and Marc Simon finish the season with a 14-5 record at three doubles, a huge improvement from where they started the season. They beat Eau Claire Regis in the semifinals, then lasted through an arduous battle against Aquinas in the championship match, winning the third set in a tie-breaker.
"These two really developed over the second half of the season to become a formidable pair," Montello said.
The Tigers got more points than they expected out of the singles lineup at the subsectional meet, but the singles players couldn't continue that level of success against the stronger competition at the sectional meet.
Marvin Rettenmaier faced the second seed from the Durand subsectional in the opening round of one singles. Rettenmaier struggled in the opening set, but came back nicely to win the second set 6-2. He then experienced physical problems in the third set. He tried to continue, but wasn't up to his normal level of play, losing the third set 6-3.
Shawn Anderson was a big surprise for the Tigers at the subsectional. He started that day with a 4-9 record, but beat two opponents to get to sectionals. In the sectional semifinal he faced an opponent from Mauston who had a 14-3 record. Again Anderson pulled off the upset, winning 6-3, 7-5.
That put Anderson in the finals against David Reckase of Aquinas. Anderson is younger appearing than most high school juniors, but Reckase is a sophomore who easily could have been mistaken for a middle schooler. Yet the two of them locked into an excellent first set, which Reckase won 6-4.
"It was at that point that I felt the match would be tough (to win)," Montello said. "Shawn didn't have the crispness he played with in his first match or his wins on Monday."
Jordan Frye also advanced to the sectional title match at three singles. He whipped his opponent from Aquinas in the semifinals. In the finals Frye faced an opponent from Medford. This was a close match, but Frye missed several chances to put shots away that his opponent chased down, coming back to win the points. Medford won the title match 6-4, 7-5.
Freshman Jake Kleiner was a huge surprise at the subsectional, winning two matches. He ran up against much more experienced opponents on Thursday and was beaten in both of his matches.
"He is a solid young man who has some great tennis ahead of him," Montello predicted.
2004 WIAA New Richmond Division 2 Boys Sectional Tennis Tournament
Team Scores: La Crosse Aquinas 44, New Richmond 42, Mauston 25, Ashland 21, Eau Claire Regis 18, Viroqua 15, Medford 14, Ellsworth 12, Baldwin-Woodville 9, Amery 7, Marshfield Columbus 4, Onalaska Luther 2, Durand 2, Phillips 2, Barron 0, Black River Falls 0
New Richmond results
One Singles: Marvin Rettenmaier was beaten in the sectional semifinals by Ben Andrew (Vir) 6-4 2-6, 6-3
Two Singles: Shawn Anderson def. Craig Cherny (Mau) in sectional semifinals 6-3, 7-5; lost to David Reckase (Aquinas) 6-4, 6-2 for sectional championship
Three Singles: Jordan Frye def. Tom Rentschler (Aquinas) 6-0, 6-0 in sectional semifinals; lost to Mike Fehlhaber (Medford) 6-4, 7-5 for sectional championship
Four Singles: Jake Kleiner was defeated by Andrew Brose (Aquinas) in the sectional semifinals 6-0, 6-0; Kliner lost to Greg Langen (Mauston) 6-2, 6-2 in the third place match
One Doubles: Charlie Bohl and Jeff Engel def. Dan Niemi and Dale Rundahl (Luther) 6-0, 6-1 in the sectional quarterfinals; Bohl and Engel def. Eric Moilien and Joe Powers (Viroqua) 6-0; 6-2 in the sectional semifinals; Bohl and Engel def. Kyle Gibson and Steve Hancock (Aquinas) 6-3, 6-3 for sectional championship
Two Doubles: Dan Bethke and Brian Rehurek def. Zach Burud and Joe Soldner (Aquinas) 7-6 A(8-6), 3-6, 7-5 in semifinals; def. Matt Lokken and Steve Ridenour (Regis) 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 for sectional championship
Three Doubles: Robert Rice and Marc Simon def. Joe Hortman and Greg Wysocky (Regis) 6-3, 6-2 in semifinals; def. Jeff Jahanger and Matt Momont (Aquinas) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 for sectional championship