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2012 Preview: Bringing MBC trophy home tops goals for New Richmond girls tennis

Sophomore Christian Weaver is one of the numerous options the Tigers have for the singles lineup.1 / 2
Junior Blaire Ziebol has worked hard in the off-season to advance into the Tigers' singles lineup to start the season.2 / 2

One of the most prized treasures of the New Richmond girls tennis team is no longer in the Tigers' possession.

After five straight years of winning the Middle Border Conference team tennis tournament trophy, the Tigers watched as Durand took home their prized trophy last fall. The Tigers are focused on returning that showpiece to the NRHS trophy case. And the Tigers have the talent to do it.

Winning the team championship, and earning a sixth straight MBC dual meet crown, lead the goals for the Tigers this season.

With six returning members of the varsity lineup and several promising newcomers, the Tigers are putting together a formidable lineup in 2012.

The lineup starts with a 1-2 tandem at the top of the singles lineup that few area teams will be able to match.

Senior Kaycie Anderson returns as the Tigers' one singles player. She's a left-hander who plays one singles differently from most of her opponents. Most one singles players want to hit shots from the baseline. Anderson played doubles her first two seasons and she brings a doubles attitude to singles.

"Kaycie's a real natural athlete. She can compete (at one singles) by coming to the net and being aggressive," said Tiger coach Denise Devereux. "Kaycie's probably our hardest worker. She always gives 100 percent."

Devereux has listed Anderson and junior Mattie Kidder as interchangeable in the top two singles slots. Kidder moved to singles this season after playing on the one doubles team last season. Kidder is tall and has a long reach, but she also has good quickness and power.

"With her height and reach, she's pretty intimidating at the net. For a 6-2 girl she moves very well. She's quite quick," Devereux said.

Senior Heather Halvorsen was the MBC champion at four singles last season. She's steady and cerebral and the coaches are fully confident that she won't have any trouble moving up to the three singles rung this season.

"Heather's biggest strength is her consistency," Devereux said. "She doesn't let much rattle her."

There are several options Devereux can opt for to fill the four singles role. Junior Blaire Ziebol has made drastic changes to her game to move into contention for the spot. Sophomore Christian Weaver has been on the coaches' radar for several years. She's grown six inches taller since last season and her game has grown too. Devereux said they both have worked hard in the off-season to put themselves into contention for a varsity spot.

The one doubles team consists of seniors Ali Graff and Maggie Earley. Graff was part of the Tigers' two doubles conference championship duo last season. Earley makes the move to doubles after playing three singles last year.

"They're going to be a good doubles team," Devereux predicted. "They both have strong serves and they hit a very solid ball."

Senior Shannon Peper returns at two doubles where she is joined by classmate Emma Meisner, who saw action in a few varsity singles matches last season.

"Shannon and Emma are very good friends, they have that chemistry," Devereux said. "Shannon's consistency is her strength, where Emma has a little more power."

Two girls new to the varsity lineup worked their way up to the three doubles roles this season. Senior Vicky Talmage and sophomore Jamie Hudalla take over this role.

"It's a big step, but they've worked hard for the opportunity," said Devereux.

Once it gets to the WIAA tournaments, there could also be a change in the Tiger lineup. Anderson and Kidder both have doubles experience and they will play the minimum six doubles matches during the season to be eligible to play in the state tournaments. Devereux said the coaches will assess which route gives them the best opportunity to get to state and the decision will be based on that.

With nearly 40 girls out for the team this season, there is plenty of competition to reach the varsity level. Many girls have to wait until they are juniors or seniors to make the varsity. But the coaches make the younger girls aware that they are part of the tradition that has won five straight MBC dual titles. Devereux said the girls all take great pride in aiming for their "six-peat" this season.

Winning the sixth title won't be easy. Baldwin-Woodville has an excellent team this season and Amery brings back some top quality players. Devereux said the girls have set the goal of winning the six-peat "and not sharing it."

And of course, there's always the conference tournament, and the trophy the Tigers hope to bring home.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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