Tigers devastate sectional tennis opposition
The New Richmond girls tennis team put together one of the most devastating performances ever at tennis sectional in this area when they rolled to the 2003 WIAA New Richmond Division 2 sectional championship last Thursday.
The Tigers held a two-point lead heading into Thursday's sectional meet. By the end of the meet the Tigers had built up a 20-point lead over second place Medford.
With their team championship, the Tigers qualify for the WIAA Division 2 Girls State Team Tournament, which will be played at Nielsen Stadium in Madison on Oct. 24-25.
Only number one and number two entries are eligible for the WIAA Individual State Tournament, so the most entries one team can get to state is four. New Richmond is one of the rare teams that advanced all four of its entries to the state tournament.
In singles, Whitney Hay and Kristen Holle, the Tigers' number one and two players, both advanced to state. In doubles, the number one team of Ali Demulling and Lindsey Springer reached state, as did the number two doubles team of Lindsey Edson and Rachel Poppy.
How dominant were the Tigers at the sectional tournament? The Tigers won the sectional championship in five of the sectional flights and they took second place in another of the flights. During the sectional tournament they won 13 of the 14 matches they played.
Tiger coach Teresa Kvam said she had to stand back and watch in amazement as the team continued to gain momentum through the day.
"By the end it was just unbelievable," Kvam said. "I never dreamed we'd be so dominating, especially in doubles. I thought it would be right down to the wire."
Last year the Tigers won the sectional championship, but it wasn't until the final matches were completed that the Tigers knew they were champions. This year, the Tigers knew they were pretty much assured of winning the sectional title by the time the championship round was starting.
Whitney Hay started the tournament by facing Jackie Wanke, senior from Medford, who brought in a 12-2 record. Hay dominated, winning 6-1, 6-2, locking up her place in the individual state tournament. Wanke was respected enough that she was accepted as an extra qualifier into the state tournament.
That put Hay into the semifinals against Erica Cameron of Eau Claire Regis. This match was a classic. Hay had never beaten Cameron, until now. Hay took the first set 6-4, but Cameron came back to capture the second set 6-4. The third set was an absolute battle of wills. Just as in her first match, Hay was deftly placing each of her shots around the court, exhausting her opponent. Hay was finally able to put Cameron away, winning the third set 6-4.
"Whitney really kept the pressure on," Kvam said. "Whitney doesn't show a lot of emotion, but she really stood tall."
That match took so much out of Hay that she didn't have enough energy left for the sectional championship match against Unity's Carrie Kothlow. The first set was close, with Kothlow winning 6-4. She then took the second set 6-1.
Kristen Holle rolled through her semifinal match at two singles, winning 6-2, 6-1. That put her into the sectional championship against a Medford opponent. The Medford opponent had a blistering jump serve, but Holle adjusted to it quickly. She then took charge, winning the sectional championship 6-2, 6-3. The win raises her season record to 24-2.
Kourtney Kleiner continued her recent red-hot play at four singles by winning the sectional championship. In the process she beat two opponents who had topped her earlier this season. She started out by beating Kessondra Creaser of Durand 6-2, 6-2. In the finals she handled Baldwin-Woodville freshman Ali Fennern 6-2, 6-3.
Ali Demulling and Lindsey Springer faced a pair of old rivals in the opening round of the sectional. In last year's sectional, they beat Marley Isaacson and Leah Schreiner of Mondovi in the opening round of the sectional to qualify for state. They would have to beat them again if they wanted to advance this year.
New Richmond's team jumped to a 5-0 lead in the opening set, before Mondovi came back to win the next three games. The Tigers took the next game to win the set, but they knew they were in for a battle.
The second set was a battle the whole way, but the Tigers managed to pull out a 6-4 win.
"The exact same thing happened last year," Kvam said. "They gave us some tense moments, but they got it back on track."
Springer and Demulling then moved to the semifinals, facing a Baldwin-Woodville team that had knocked off a strong Wausau Newman team in the opening round. The first set went to a tie-breaker, with the Tigers getting the win. The Tigers then settled into a groove and took the second set 6-1.
That put New Richmond in the sectional championship against Durand. The Tigers played like champions, roaring to a 6-2, 6-1 win. This gives them a 16-0 record as they head into the state meet.
Edson and Poppy were matched up against Wausau Newman in the sectional semifinals. This was two very closely matched teams, but the Tigers were able to parlay strong net play into a 6-4, 6-4 win.
Just like the one doubles team, the New Richmond two doubles team dominated in the sectional championship match. They crushed Durand 6-1, 6-0 to earn their place in the state individual tournament. They now have a 14-2 record.
New Richmond's three doubles team of Alyssa Jerlow and Laurel Hay gave the Tiger fans a scare in the sectional semifinals, losing their first set to Durand 6-2. Finding that they might have underestimated the Durand team, the Tigers refocused and won the next two sets 6-3, 6-3.
When they reached the sectional finals, the Tigers didn't have any problem focusing. They disposed of Altoona 6-2, 6-1 to give the Tigers a sweep of the sectional doubles championships.
The sectional tournament showed the strength of the Middle Border Conference this season. Four of the top five teams in the sectional were MBC teams.
2003 New Richmond Division 2 Tennis Sectional Tournament
Team Scores: New Richmond 48, Medford Area 28, Durand 24, Amery 19, Baldwin-Woodville 16, Ashland 15, Black River Falls 14, Regis 10, Unity 10, Ellsworth 8, Altoona 8, Newman 7, Bloomer 4, Mondovi 4 and Hurley 2.