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New Richmond boys tennis takes second place in prolonged MBC tournament

Senior Russ Hop returns a volley during action at the completion of the Middle Border Conference boys tennis tournament last Tuesday.1 / 2
New Richmond senior Michael Skoyen drives a shot back across the net during a Tiger match this season. Skoyen shared the team MVP honors with classmates Russ Hop and Stuart Pearson. 2 / 2

From the start to its finish, the 2017 Middle Border Conference boys tennis tournament was likely the longest tournament in MBC history.

But the wait was worth it for the New Richmond boys. The Tigers were champions at three flights and they finished second at two more flights. That impressive performance led the Tigers to a second place finish in the conference meet, which was completed last Tuesday at the New Richmond High School courts.

By placing second at the conference meet, the Tigers were able to move up to third place in the final overall conference standings for the 2017 season.

The conference tournament was started Tuesday, May 16, but because of heavy rain that day, the tournament had to be postponed. And with the WIAA tournaments the following week, along with graduations and other school commitments, the coaches could not find a makeup date that week. So it was finally decided that Tuesday, May 30, would be the makeup date. And play had to be stopped briefly then too, because of rain, but the weather lightened up, allowing for completion of the tournament.

Eau Claire Regis won the tournament with 29 points. New Richmond was second with 26 points. The Tigers finished fourth in the dual meet season, but the second place finish last Tuesday moved them past Baldwin-Woodville to rank third in the final overall standings.

Winning flight championships for the Tigers were Stu Pearson at two singles, Michael Skoyen at three singles and the team of Cole Kramer and Joe Smallidge at three doubles. Finishing second in their flight were Russ Hop at one singles and Trent Ziebol at four singles.

Pearson has dominated the action at two singles all season, and that continued at the conference meet. In the semifinals he defeated Baldwin-Woodville 6-2, 6-0. Pearson was just as sharp against Regis’ Brock Martin in the finals, winning 6-1, 6-1.

The other two Tiger championships contained much more drama. Skoyen barely survived his semifinal match against Regis’ Jake Nehder. Skoyen won the opening set 6-4. He was leading 5-2 in the second, but Nehder won five straight games to win 7-5. When Tiger coach Denise Devereux talked with Skoyen after that set, he replied with “I’m pretty good in tiebreaks.”

That would prove prophetic. Skoyen won the third set tie-break against Nehder 10-5 to move into the finals against Altoona’s Townes Adams. Skoyen won the first set 7-6, winning the tiebreak 7-5. Adams took the second set 6-2. The third set tie-break went Skoyen’s way, winning the match with a 10-8 win.

Kramer and Smallidge may have even supplied more drama in achieving their title. They were down 4-1 in opening set of their finals match against Altoona. They rallied and won the set in a tie-break. Altoona tore through the second set for a 6-1 win. Altoona was on the verge of a third set tie-break win, leading 9-5. Kramer and Smallidge then mounted a comeback for the ages, earning the conference title with a 13-11 victory.

Hop played well to reach the one singles finals, where he meet Marcus Bourget of Regis. They played a highly contested first set, where Bourget won 7-5. Bourget caught fire in the second set, winning 6-1.

Ziebol also played sharply in the semifinals, topping Zac Nielson of Baldwin-Woodville 6-1, 6-3. Ziebol was defeated in the four singles finals by Nati Raehl of Regis, 6-2, 6-4.

Devereux said she was pleased with how the Tigers came back after the two-week delay and played with excellent energy.

The Tigers also held their team banquet last week. They only gave one award, but it was split three ways. Most Valuable Player was shared by Hop, Pearson and Skoyen.

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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