Being that the Rhinelander tennis team had already clinched the conference championship by having a wide enough point margin to secure the top spot, the GNC tournament was more of on individual challenge last Tuesday. Where many teams would have settled back and waited knowing they clinched the championship, the Hodags came to dominate and did just that, wrapping up with five first place champions and two second place finishes.
“I don’t think we rested on our laurels having come in with the conference clinched,” said RHS tennis Coach Bob Heideman. “I think the girls were still hungry to prove to themselves.”
At the #1 singles spot Lyssa Messerli took second place on the day, battling hard against Elizabeth Mawlick, a two time defending champion. Eileen Emond had a stellar performance and won a conference title at the No. 2 singles spot.
“I think a real sweet win was at the No. 2 singles for Eileen,” the coach said. “She lost to a girl who beat her twice, and basically handled her pretty easily.” Heideman went on to say, “She (Eileen) won the first set 6-2 and was up 5-2 before closing it out at 7-5. Eileen played some good tennis. She is a good competitor.”
Roz Hatlen clinched a title at the No. 3 singles along with Eva O’Melia at No. 4. Eva O’Melia joined the 20 win club on the day, a hallmark in tennis. The No. 1 tennis team of Beth Zenk and Kelsie Prahl took first in conference along with the Sheth sisters at No. 2 doubles.
“Number one doubles had a close set in the final and won a tiebreaker,” stated Heideman. “I think it was a case of nerves a little bit. The last two years they took second and they had it won last year but Medford came back. This year they were tougher and once they got the lead in the third set Medford didn’t have much left to challenge them.”
“Amber and Melissa (Sheth), the great thing about them is they always play the same tennis. It is a very pretty steady game with not much real flashy stuff, but smart shots and few errors. That is how they played today.”
Sierra Vinger and Abby Bloch took second place in the conference in the No. 3 doubles spot. Scoring 38 points in the conference tournament the Hodags total bumps to 166, which happens to be a conference record.
When regarding the upcoming thoughts of possibly advancing an athlete to sectionals or state, Coach Heideman is happy and jumping at the opportunity.
“We are going to work hard and the sub sectional is a step up. We are going to be ready for that. Although we played some good tennis today for us to be successful on many levels we are going to have to step up and play our best tennis. We are going to put in some hours this week and iron out a few kinks, and we can use this time to improve.
Rhinelander will travel to D.C. Everest for WIAA subsectionals on Monday, Oct. 1.