No MBC trophy for New Richmond tennis team this yearThe pride and joy of the New Richmond girls tennis program has been the travelling trophy that goes to the winner of the Middle Border Conference tournament each year.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The pride and joy of the New Richmond girls tennis program has been the travelling trophy that goes to the winner of the Middle Border Conference tournament each year.
This year, the Tigers’ favorite trophy will reside in Durand. The Panthers, sparked by the play of a foreign exchange student who captured the one singles title, earned the conference tournament championship. New Richmond, which shared the conference regular season title with Baldwin-Woodville, placed second. The Tigers won the conference trophy each of the past four years.
The Tigers were conference champions in two flights. Juniors Ali Graff and Shannon Peper teamed up to win the two doubles flight. Junior Heather Halvorsen was the four singles champion.
Not retaining the conference championship was an emotional setback for the Tigers.
“We were disappointed in not finishing first, but not in the quality of the girls’ play,” said Tiger coach Denise Devereux. “The Middle Border Conference is much stronger this year.”
The Tigers reached the finals in five of the seven flights in the tournament. They got to the finals in all three doubles flights, plus the one and four singles flights.
The championship won by Peper and Graff is a testimony to the hard work by all the Tigers over the summer. They were both junior varsity players last year. Devereux said they both learned to adapt their game to the varsity level. Graff is an intense player who hits the ball hard. Peper’s style is the exact opposite.
“Shannon doesn’t hit the ball hard, but she has really good placement. She was finding holes all the time,” Devereux said.
Junior Heather Halvorsen reached the finals at four singles. She rolled past her first two opponents with little difficulty. That put her into the finals against Durand’s Jenna Johnson. Johnson won the first set 7-5. The match was then called due to darkness. It was finished up on Friday in Woodville. Halvorsen was at the top of her game on Friday. She won the second set in a tie-breaker. She used the momentum from that win to capture the deciding set 6-2.
The one doubles team of Amy Kukacka and Mattie Kidder thrashed their opening opponents, losing one game in their first two matches. The competition got much tougher when they faced Baldwin-Woodville in the finals. The Tiger girls put together a strong opening set, winning 6-4.
Early in the second set, trouble set in. Baldwin-Woodville got a bit of momentum and the Tigers got a large dose of nerves. B-W took the final two sets, 6-3, 6-4. Devereux said the nervousness was out of character for her doubles team.
Getting the three doubles team of Allie Wrich and Carley Brotzler into the finals, and nearly winning a title, was a major step forward for the Tiger duo.
New Richmond beat Unity 6-1, 6-1 in the opening round. In the semifinals the Tigers faced a Baldwin-Woodville team that had beaten them a week earlier in their conference dual match. The Tigers avenged that loss, winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.
That moved Wrich and Brotzler into the finals against Durand, the top seed. The Tigers nearly pulled off another upset. They won the first set 6-3 and Durand took the second set by the same score. The third set was a battle to the very end. It went to a tie-breaker, which Durand won 7-5.
At one singles, New Richmond junior Kaycie Anderson rolled to the finals. She beat Ellsworth’s top player 6-0, 6-0, then beat Unity’s one singles player 6-4, 6-1 in the semifinals.
In the finals Anderson faced Martha Bocque, Durand’s new one singles player. Bocque is a foreign exchange student from Belgium who joined the team midway through the season. Anderson put up a good fight, but lost 6-4, 6-1. Devereux said this loss isn’t a measure of Anderson, but an indication of her opponent.
Maggie Earley was the fourth seed at three singles and that’s where the Tiger junior finishes. She defeated Osceola 6-3, 6-3 in the opening round, before losses to Unity and Durand left her in fourth place.