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Rain creates disjointed Middle Border Conference tennis meet

New Richmond senior Jimmy Miller gets set to put away a shot at the net during doubles action in the Middle Border Conference tournament last Tuesday.

While the Middle Border Conference tennis meet began last Tuesday, it might not be until next Tuesday before the tournament champion is decided.

Weather wreaked havoc on many high school sports in the area last week, but none more than tennis. Rain delayed the start of the tournament for three hours. When action finally began, all 18 courts at New Richmond High School and New Richmond Middle School were put into use. It got the first round of action done, but the 5 p.m. wave of rain that came through shut down action when most players were in their second match of the day.

Because of the numerous scheduling conflicts this time of year, finding a date to complete the tournament has been nearly impossible. With Division 1 and Division 2 having their subsectionals and sectionals on alternating days this week, it has wiped out this entire week. So it now appears that the tournament will be completed next Tuesday at the NRHS courts.

New Richmond had been playing well before the tournament was interrupted, with five of the seven Tiger entries advancing to the semifinals. And two of those had already secured a spot in the conference finals.

Russ Hop at one singles, along with the three doubles team of Cole Kramer and Joe Smallidge, have already reached the finals. Hop faced Altoona’s Cade Magruder in the semifinals. Magruder won when they played in the dual season. This time Hop prevailed impressively, 6-1, 6-2.

“Russ played fabulously in the semifinals,” said Tiger coach Denise Devereux.

Kramer and Smallidge had an opening bye, then faced Eau Claire Regis in the semifinals. The Tiger duo won the opening set 6-3, but Regis took the second set by the same score. Kramer and Smallidge stepped it up in the third set tiebreaker, winning 10-5 to qualify for the finals.

Stuart Pearson is leading in his semifinal match at two singles, 6-2, 2-0. Michael Skoyen just completed a 6-4 win in the first set of his three singles semifinal before the rain came and Trent Ziebol was just beginning warmups for his four singles semifinal when play was suspended.

The only Tigers who were knocked out in the first round of the tournament were the one doubles team of Zach Norman and Tyler Blattner and the two doubles team of Jimmy Miller and Matt Kukacka.

On Thursday the Tigers hosted their final match of the season, a triangular against River Falls and Hudson. It was not the Tigers’ finest performance. They lost to Hudson 6-1 and to River Falls 5-2.

One of the few bright spots for the Tigers was the play of Kramer and Smallidge at three doubles. They won both of their matches, which should help their seeding position for this week’s WIAA tournaments.

Norman and Blattner also put together a sharp performance at two doubles. They posted a 6-1, 6-1 win against River Falls and put up a hearty battle against Hudson, losing 6-4, 7-5.

The Tigers are now in WIAA Division 1 playoffs. The subsectionals were played on Monday, with the sectional tournament scheduled for Wednesday at Eau Claire Memorial.

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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