A super-solid fourth-place finish in the 18-team Marshfield Sectional still left the Bluejay tennis team out in the cold when it came to state qualifiers.
But wait, after further review, the petition for #1 singles player Olivia Heitz was accepted.
MHS coach Jennifer Heitz actually petitioned for both her daughter and #2 singles player Liz Smith, but only Heitz prevailed.
“I was hoping they both could go because they both deserved to go,” Heitz said. “They have relied on each other and cheered for each other the entire season. They are both exceptional players.
“Olivia was really excited Saturday when she found out she was in, but she was also upset that Liz was not in, too. I just told Olivia she needs to represent the Merrill tennis team and play for everybody.”
Heitz lost a close 7-6 (8), 6-4 match to Menomonie’s Claire James (20-10), and the closeness of the match and the fact that two players Heitz (16-8) previously defeated-Marshfield’s Taylor Varsho (21-8) and East’s Lindsey Viegut (14-13)-both advanced, gave Heitz her shot. Four spots from #1 singles and doubles qualify, while just the top spot moves on at the other positions.
“Olivia played her heart out,” Heitz said. “She got behind in both sets and fought her way back. But she couldn’t pull it out so she was very disappointed.”
Smith (22-4) took a 6-4, 6-4 match from Hudson’s Morgan Van Allen, but lost a 6-4, 7-5 final to Eau Claire Memorial’s Sydney Wolfe and placed second.
“Liz played wonderfully and matched Wolfe stroke for stroke in some very long rallies,” Heitz said.
Kristen Verdoorn (22-3) also placed second after a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 comeback with Rachael Knoke (16-11) at #4 singles. Verdoorn fell 6-1, 6-2 to Memorial’s Victoria Teschendorf (23-1).
“Teschendorf was a very solid and strong-hitting opponent,” Heitz said.
The Dani Teske/Aly Brandvold #2 duo fell 6-1, 6-2 to Hudson, then 6-2, 6-3 to East to end up fourth.
“In the first match I think they were nervous,” Heitz said. “They played much better in the second match and got their feet moving.
“The day was one of mixed emotions-happiness with how well the team did, but disappointment on not advancing anyone directly to state.”
Heitz will face Plymouth freshman Elizabeth Raeder (12-4) in the opening round. If she wins, she would meet #1 seed, Aly Coran (26-1), of Homestead, on Friday morning.