Raiders win three sectional matches to cap solid season
WIAA DIV. 2 GIRLS TENNIS
BY MATT FREY
Medford’s top two doubles teams fell one win short of qualifying for state at last Thursday’s WIAA Division 2 Regis girls tennis sectional, while the Raiders’ third doubles team barely missed winning a sectional championship.
Senior Cassidy Balciar added a thirdplace finish at number-three singles to put the finishing touch on a fifth-place team finish for the Raiders in sectional competition, who totaled 19 points in the subsectional and sectional meets.
The sectional hosts from Regis secured the team title and a berth in the Oct. 26 team state tournament in Madison by finishing with 44 points when sectional play was finished at Eau Claire’s Menards YMCA Tennis Center. Amery was second with 33 points, while Newman Catholic and Ashland tied for third with 28 points apiece.
The Raiders’ chances for state representation lied with the number-one doubles team of Lauryn Strick and Elaine Schumacher and the number-two team of Kailee Mann and Brooke Sommer.
Playing in flight one, Strick and Schumacher, both seniors, needed to win one match to qualify for a trip to Madison this weekend. They knew they had a tough matchup, however, in Barron juniors Jada Brunkow and Phoebe Jerome (14-5), who beat the Raiders 6-3, 6-3 back on Sept. 26 and beat Strick and Mariah Leader in last year’s sectional meet before the Raiders were added to the state field as special qualifiers.
This time, Brunkow and Jerome jumped ahead 6-1 in the first set. The Raiders made things interesting in set two, but Barron’s duo held on 6-4 to complete the sweep. They went on to finish fourth in the sectional after losing to the eventual champions from Regis, Elena Bourget and Evie Shepich (21-8) in the semifinals and to Stevens Point Pacelli’s Ella Schroeder and Marissa Stolt (18-8) in the third-place match.
Strick and Schumacher finished the year 15-9.
In flight two, Mann and Sommer (146) needed two wins to qualify for state. They got halfway there one with a 6-4, 6-3 semifinal win over Osceola seniors Ella Salewski and Makayla Quigley (116). That set up the flight championship match with Ashland juniors Mara Pierce and Kalli Mikkonen.
The first set went the distance with Ashland’s team pulling it out 7-6 by taking the tiebreaker 7-4. Mann and Sommer hung tough in the second set as well, but Pierce and Mikkonen (19-2) finished it off 6-4.
Junior Jordaan Clark and sophomore Kelsey Jascor weren’t eligible to go to state, but a sectional championship in flight three was there for the taking. They swept Baldwin-Woodville sopho- mores Brooke and Allison Albrightson (8-7) by scores of 6-3, 6-0 in the semifi nals. The championship match was outstanding, but Regis senior Marianne Kern and sophomore Lauren Seeman (113) earned one of the tightest straight-set wins one will ever see 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3).
Clark and Jascor finished the fall 19-4.
Balciar, who just started playing singles right before the post-season began, finished 6-5 after earning a split in her matches Thursday.
In the flight-three semifinals, Balciar took the first set as far as it could go before Amery senior Hailey Clausen won it 7-6 (2). Clausen (16-7) closed out the match 6-3 in the second set, before falling 6-1, 6-3 to Regis junior Arianna Smith (267) in the championship.
Balciar was tested in the third-place match, but showed toughness and won 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 over Newman Catholic senior Anna Hackett (3-10).
The Great Northern Conference advanced two state-qualifying entrants from the meet. Schroeder and Stolt of Pacelli are headed back to the state doubles tournament after going 0-1 last October. Newman Catholic sophomore Becky Larrain (23-7) won the number-one singles championship and will look to improve upon her 0-1 showing of a year ago in Madison.
Newman senior Ali Bennett (19-5) was added to the state singles field as a special qualifier after taking second Thursday in flight two.
Rhinelander and Antigo, the GNC’s top two teams, competed in Division 1 and did not send anyone to state.
Lauryn Strick #1 doubles
Kailee Mann #2 doubles
Brooke Sommer #2 doubles
Jordaan Clark #3 doubles
Kelsey Jascor #3 doubles
Cassidy Balciar #3 singles