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New Richmond girls tennis building momentum

New Richmond junior Katey Eickhoff returns a serve during the Tigers' No. 1 doubles win against Altoona during Saturday's New Richmond quad meet. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

A four-win week is impressive, but the New Richmond girls tennis team is gauging its season on improvement as much as wins.

And in the way of improvement, last week was also a success.

On Thursday, the Tigers were sharp in winning a Middle Border Conference match at Baldwin-Woodville, 7-0. On Saturday, the Tigers hosted their annual quad meet. The Tigers won all three of their matches, with 7-0 wins against Altoona and Rice Lake and a 6-1 win against Eau Claire North.

Baldwin-Woodville has traditionally been one of the Tigers' toughest opponents in the MBC. The Hawks have a solid doubles lineup. The one doubles match started 3-3, but the Tigers rolled from there to win 6-3, 6-0.

"In the second set, there was no doubt who was the better team," said New Richmond coach Denise Devereux. She said Katey Eickhoff had been dealing with a hip injury and got medical clearance last week. That led the Tiger coaches to seek more aggressive play from the Eickhoff and Anna Hop, not allowing them to hit any lobs.

"They have to swing hard and they're getting a feel for it," Devereux said.

In wins where the Tigers won the first set comfortably, the coaches are installing new tactics for the girls to try in the second set. In the two doubles match against B-W, the Tigers won the opening set 6-0. So the coaches had Kerrigan Storie and Sydney Hahn try a different approach through much of the second set. In the final games they were allowed to go to approach they are more comfortable with and they won, 7-5.

In Saturday's quad, the Tigers opened against Altoona. The match to see was at one singles, where New Richmond's Mia Bakke faced Sydney Presler, a girl she faces frequently in the off-season. They both play USTA tennis out of Eau Claire in the off-season. Presler won the opening set 7-5. Bakke stayed cool and responded with 6-0 and 10-8 wins in the final two sets. Devereux said Bakke's ability to handle pressure situations like this has grown immensely this season.

Teresa Tenner also had a tough opponent in the two singles match, getting a girl who is usually part of Altoona's top doubles team. Tenner was beaten in the first set, then came back with 6-1 and 11-9 wins.

The only loss of the day for the Tigers came at two doubles against Eau Claire North, the same team that beat the Tigers at the Division 1 subsectional tournament last year. The Tigers put up a fight, but lost 6-3, 6-3. Winning 6-1 against North is important because this gives the Tigers a favorable win at six flights when it comes to seeding for this year's subsectional meet.

The Tigers closed the day with a dominant win against Rice Lake. Devereux said said this win showed what the Tigers are trying to accomplish: that no matter the level of the opponent, the team needs to maintain a high quality of play.

The next match for the Tigers will be another that carries subsectional consequences. That is next Monday, when the Tigers host River Falls.

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 more than 30 years.

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