The wait proved worthwhile for the New Richmond girls who were hoping to be chosen as special qualifiers for the 2019 WIAA Division 1 State Tennis Championships.
New Richmond’s top singles player, Mia Bakke, and the top doubles team, Teresa Tenner and Katey Eickhoff, were both selected as special qualifying entries. They are scheduled to play Thursday in the opening round of the state championships at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.
Bakke (17-8) will face Monona Grove senior Hailey Munz (21-9) in the opening round of singles play at state.
Eickhoff and Tenner (12-9) will battle Zoe Briquelet Miller and Lee Ratanawong of Wausau East (17-3) in the first round of doubles matches. The Wausau East team is the opponent the Tigers just lost against in three sets at sectionals.
Tiger coach Denise Devereux said both Tiger entries have the ability to win their opening match. Of Bakke, she said "Mia's a seasoned player. Mia has a game that can play with these girls."
The recent history gives the Tiger doubles team ample fuel. "Our girls are more than capable of beating them," Devereux said.
Both those Tiger entries were defeated in the opening round at the WIAA Division 1 Eau Claire Sectional Tournament last Wednesday. So was the Tigers’ No. 2 doubles team of Sophie Fuchs and Brogan O’Flanagan.
If either of the No. 1 entries had won their opening match on Wednesday, they’d have qualified for state. Fuchs and O’Flanagan would have needed to win their entire sectional bracket to advance to state.
Bakke had a standout season in singles, but met the same fate as last season. She again met Wausau East senior Savannah Carroll in the sectional opener. Bakke put up an excellent battle, but lost 7-5, 6-3.
“Mia played the best she’s played this season,” said Tiger coach Denise Devereux.
The team of Eickhoff and Tenner had a great opening set, winning 6-4 against Wausau East. The tables were quickly turned, with East taking the second set 6-1. Both teams played well in the third set, but East was able to win 6-4. Wausau then knocked off Eau Claire Memorial in the semifinals before losing in three sets to Stevens Point in the sectional finals.
Fuchs and O’Flanagan ran up against the top seed from Stevens Point. They put up a game battle. The Tigers lost the second set, then battled Point point-for-point in the second set. The Tigers lost in the tie-break, 9-7. In the third place match, the Tigers lost in three sets against Wausau East.
“They all completed well,” Devereux said of her sectional entries. “It was frustrating to have them all come out on the losing end when they are all so capable.”
The WIAA Division 1 subsectional tennis tournament at Menomonie on Oct. 7 was the most successful subsectional for the New Richmond girls since the Tigers became a Division 1 program.
The Tigers advanced to Wednesday’s sectional tournament at three flights. The Tigers also scored a win at all seven flights, a first for the program in Division 1.
New Richmond completed play Monday with 16 points, trailing only Eau Claire Memorial and Hudson in the team competition.
“It’s the best we have ever done,” New Richmond coach Denise Devereux said about Monday’s team results. “(It was) an excellent day of tennis.”
Bakke advanced in the No. 1 singles flight, where she drew the third seed. She defeated Superior’s Jillian Reuille in the opening round 6-1, 6-0 to advance.
Eickhoff and Tenner also advanced after being the third seed. They rolled through their opening match, defeating River Falls 6-3, 6-0.
Also advancing were Sophie Fuchs and O’Flanagan. They struggled in their opening match against Superior but were able to defeat Superior 6-2, 7-5. The Tigers were much sharper in the second round, defeating Hudson 6-2, 7-5.
In singles matches, Ari Devereux, Izzy Brinkman and Alanna Knutson were all winners in their opening match, but were defeated in the semifinals. The No. 3 doubles team of Rhea Warner and Onalie Dennis met a similar fate. Coach Devereux said these girls played some of their best tennis of the season, losing in close outcomes.