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New Richmond's Kaycie Anderson and Mattie Kidder make an impact at WIAA state tennis meet

New Richmond's Mattie Kidder and Kaycie Anderson (center) are congratulated by coaches Teresa Kvam (left) and Denise Devereux after the Tigers won their opening match in the WIAA Division 1 State Tennis Championships last Thursday.

When New Richmond's Kaycie Anderson and Mattie Kidder headed to the WIAA Division 1 State Championships last Thursday, they set a goal of making an impact in their first trip to the state meet.

They clearly accomplished their goal. They won their opening match, then put up a hearty battle against the team that would place second in the state Division 1 doubles tournament.

Anderson and Kidder reached state as the third seed from the Wausau Division 1 sectional meet. Their opening draw was the doubles team of Jamie Testwuide and Connor Dlugoposki of Sheboygan North, who were the second seed from their sectional. The Tigers found they had an additional challenge when they met the Sheboygan tandem: both were left-handed.

Facing lefties isn't anything new for Kidder, because she practices against Anderson, also a left-hander, every day. But this was the first time Anderson faced a left-hander and it took her a couple games to adjust to the angle of the left-handed serves.

"Once she adjusted, it didn't faze her at all," Tiger coach Denise Devereux said of facing the left-handers.

The first set was a close battle, going to a tie-breaker. The Tigers fell behind 6-2 but fought back. Sheboygan finally took the tie-breaker 10-8.

"In the first set there was a little bit of state jitters," Devereux said.

There were no jitters in the second set. The Tigers completely controlled the action, winning 6-0.

The third set was a truncated tie-breaker. The Tigers never gave up the lead, but had to battle for the 10-8 victory.

The Tigers had a large following, with 30 friends and relatives making the trip to Madison to see them play. The team's ability to come back from losing the first set did not surprise their coach. Devereux said their biggest asset is their "spirit and determination. That team does not let themselves get down. They figure out what they need to do."

The second round draw for the Tigers was one of the toughest possible. They faced the Green Bay Southwest team of Justine Daane and Sammi Pedersen, who brought an 18-3 record into the match. They were seeded seventh in the state bracket. Southwest won the match 6-2, 7-5. It was the closest any team came to beating Southwest until the state title match when Southwest lost to the top-seeded team from Homestead 6-3, 6-1.

New Richmond gave the Southwest team more of a battle than the score might indicate. Southwest took a 4-1 lead in the first set, but three of those losses went to deuce and the Tigers served for game point in two of them.

Late in the first set the Tiger coaches noticed one of the Southwest players stood extremely close to the net when Kidder was receiving serves. The coaches instructed Kidder to drive the ball hard back at her whenever she got a short shot or a second serve. The tactic worked and the second game was a tight battle to the final point.

The Tigers finish their season with an 11-2 doubles record, on top of the success they each had playing singles for much of the season. Devereux said it was fitting that Anderson capped her career with a trip to the state tournament. Anderson didn't play tennis until the summer before her freshman season. Devereux said making that much progress in four years shows how dedicated Anderson was to improving.

Kidder will return as a senior next season with the decision on whether she wants to play doubles or singles. Devereux said Kidder could go far with either choice.

"With Mattie's game, I believe she can make it (to state) in singles," Devereux said.