Bluejay tennis girls push envelope so hard it crumples
The Bluejay girls tennis team has worked so hard to get to this point that it doesn’t even strike them as funny that they are off to a 10-2 start just three years after not winning a match.
The latest victims include Rhinelander in Thursday’s 5-2 road match and a trio of teams in Monday’s Merrill Quad.
The Jays dumped Lakeland and Antigo by 6-1 tallies and pulled out a 4-3 triumph over Marshfield Columbus, a team that dominated the GNC standings last year.
“We’ve had a really solid start to the season,” MHS coach Jennifer Heitz said. “It’s a really good feeling. It gives us momentum heading into (the Valley) conference on Thursday, but we know the competition will be even tougher. Hopefully we go in with confidence and determination.”
Merrill gave up just two total games while sweeping singles with Lakeland. Olivia Heitz (#1, 6-0, 6-0), Liz Smith (#2, 6-1, 6-0), Hannah Ollhoff (#3, 6-0, 6-0) and Kristin Verdoorn (#4, 6-1, 6-0) already locked up the win.
The #3 pair of Sarah Altman/Marissa Bartz cruised 6-3, 6-1. The #2 team of Aly Brandvold/Dani Teske lost 2-6, 7-6, 10-3, and the #1 Marissa Wilde/Ellen Donner duo dropped a 6-4, 6-2 match.
Heitz dropped a 6-2, 6-2 match to state qualifier Elizabeth Manlick in the Columbus match, but Smith (6-0, 6-0), Ollhoff (6-0, 6-0) and Verdoorn (6-1, 6-1) picked her up.
Katie Harvey and Kelsey Pintens pulled off a 6-7, 6-2, 10-7 win in the #3 spot for the win. The Wilde/Donner (6-2, 6-3) and Brandvold/Teske (6-4, 6-4) combos played solid matches.
Merrill mixed things up in its final match with Antigo, a known quantity. Ollhoff (6-1, 7-5) and Verdoorn (6-1, 6-3) prevailed up at the #1 and 2 spots, respectively, and Leah Johnson won 6-3, 6-1 at #4. Karina Baacke lost 6-2, 6-1 at #3.
Heitz/Smith took a 6-1, 6-2 match, Altman/ Bartz won 6-1, 6-1, and Sarah Hanson/Marie Renaud survived 7-6, 6-4.
“It was nice to switch the line-up a little bit, and give some new girls an opportunity,” Heitz said.
Top-heavy Rhinelander grabbed victories at #1 and #2 singles, but the Jays pulled out every other win.
“Our #1 and #2 singles girls had a difficult time against previous state qualifiers, but the rest of the line-up won in convincing fashion,” Heitz said.
Heitz was defeated 6-0, 6-0 by Pri Sikka, who was 25-4 last year and won her opening state match. Smith hung within 6-4, 6-2 of Alleigh Fralick, who tied for eighth in #1 doubles at state last year.
But a doubles sweep from Donner/Wilde (6-1, 6-1), Brandvold/Teske (6-0, 6-2) and Altman/Bartz (6-0, 6-0), to go with wins from Ollhoff (7-6, 6-2) and Verdoorn (6-0, 6-0) gave Merrill the conclusive victory.