After battling four days of battling the elements, their Middle Border Conference opponents, and even a wayward mouse, the New Richmond girls are the 2019 MBC team champions.
This is the fifth straight season the Tigers have won the conference overall championship. They locked up the team title by winning six of the seven flights in the conference tournament. The tournament began on Tuesday, but because of the incessant rain, the final match of the tournament wasn’t completed until Friday.
The Tigers were champions at all three of the doubles flights and three of the singles flights. This was especially significant for several of the seniors who have been major parts of each of the past four championships. Mia Bakke, Katey Eickhoff and Teresa Tenner all won their third MBC flight championship this week.
Bakke and Eickhoff have been medalists in all four of their varsity seasons. As freshmen they both played singles, with Eickhoff taking second at No. 3 singles and Bakke taking third at No. 2 singles. They both moved to doubles as sophomores, teaming up to win the MBC championship at one doubles. Bakke then moved to singles, keeping up the family tradition of playing No. 1 for the Tigers. She won that championship each of the past two seasons.
Eickhoff stayed at the No. 1 doubles spot, winning titles each of the past two seasons. Last year she was paired with Anna Hop, this year she won with her third different partner, teaming with Tenner for the title. This was also Tenner’s third title. She was the MBC champion at No. 3 singles in 2017 and at No. 2 singles last year.
Senior Ari Devereux has won two titles for the Tigers. In 2017, she was the champion at No. 4 singles and last year she won the title at No. 3 singles. This year she took second place at No. 2 singles.
The five straight titles were all won under Coach Denise Devereux. Through her years in the Tiger program, Devereux said she’s never seen an MBC tournament that has had to go longer than two days to be completed. The MBC title is a combined total based on the results of the conference tournament and the conference dual meet season. The Tigers won all of their dual matches and the six flight champions put them far above the crowd in the overall results.
The tournament started last Tuesday, but rain washed the players off the courts just as the first round of matches was ending. The girls were back on the New Richmond courts on Wednesday. Three of the flights were able to be completed, but four still needed more time. The coaches huddled after the second postponement, finding locations for the rest of the matches to be played on Thursday and Friday.
The final match was played Friday, with New Richmond’s Sophie Fuchs and Brogan O’Flanagan winning the No. 2 doubles flight on their home court against Osceola. The Tigers won the finals match 6-2, 6-3, the first conference title for both girls. There was also extra excitement that had all the girls’ hearts racing. The concession trailer was being moved away from the tennis courts. A field mouse had been finding refuge from the rain under the trailer. It was startled and rain toward the crowd of Tiger girls who were huddled watching their teammates. The girls scattered and the mouse darted onto the court, causing the girls in the match to momentarily forget about tennis.
It wasn’t just the seniors who contributed to the win. The Tigers have a mix of younger players in the lineup too. It was younger players who produced titles at the lower two singles flights, with Izzy Brinkman winning at No. 3 singles and Alanna Knutson at No. 4 singles. A young tandem also took the title at No. 3 doubles, where Rhea Warner and Onalie Dennis were champions. This duo has improved immensely during the season and now has a 17-1 record.
Coach Devereux said she was impressed with how this team went about its business this season. She said several recent versions of the Tigers went through a mid-season slump, because the Tigers play such a difficult schedule to start each season. She said this team maintained a high level of focus and find ways to improve in every match.
Devereux said the high standard of success each season is a reflection of the girls’ dedication to their sport. She said eight of the 10 varsity players have memberships at Hudson’s indoor facility to play year-round.