The Rhinelander High School boys' tennis team earned their fourth straight Great Northern Conference title on Saturday. The Hodags hosted the GNC tournament and finished with 38 points with five first-place finishes and two second-place finishes on the day. RHS also had a 14-point advantage going into the tournament.
Including the 51 match wins throughout the season, Rhinelander finished with a total of 140 conference points out of five teams in the GNC. The Hodags finished 23 points ahead of runner up, Antigo who finished with 29 points in the GNC meet. Medford finished third in the conference with 69 points, Lakeland placed fourth with 57 points, and Phillips rounded out the GNC with 2 GNC points.
RHS earned six No. 1 seeds before the tournament began, and was officially able to clench the title when No. 2 singles Markus Johnson defeated Andrew Turunen of Antigo in the semifinals.
Rhinelander earned titles at three of the four singles flights including Johnson, Matt O'Melia, and Russell Benoy. While two of the Hodags' doubles teams earned GNC titles including Jared Haug and Connor Young and Marshall Bessette and Logan Oestreich.
At No. 1 singles, Logan Wild fell in the championship match in three sets to Tyler Husnick of Antigo, who also earned singles player of the year. And RHS No. 1 doubles team of Grant Gilbert and Jared Fabich also fell in their championship match to Ben Bartletti and Drew Schwarz of Antigo, who earned doubles' players of the year.
Johnson charted his third straight GNC title, this time at the second flight. He first defeated Andrew Turunen of Antigo, 6-3, 6-1. And made short work of Vincent Yu of Lakeland, earning the finals win 6-1, 6-0.
It also marked O'Melia's fourth straight title in singles action. O'Melia had to rally back after falling 3-6 to Tanner Stueck in the first set of the semifinals. In the second set, O'Melia swung all the momentum his way as he blanked Stueck 6-0 to force a third set. O'Melia won the tiebreaker 10-7 to advance to the finals. In the championship match, O'Melia downed Alec Shear of Medford 6-1, 6-0.
At the fourth singles flight, Benoy first earned a straight set win over Marcus Reimann of Medford to the get into the championship match. And in the finals Benoy downed Tommy Blink of Antigo 6-2, 6-1 to earn the title.
Young and Haug at No. 2 doubles defeated Lakeland and Antigo in matching 6-0, 6-1 scores to earn the title. The Hodag duo won the No. 3 doubles title last season. And Bessette and Oestreich at No. 3 doubles defeated Sam Berger and Jayson Krause in straight sets. And in the finals Oestreich/Bessette downed Brody Bunnell and Jake Waters 6-2 in the first, and fended off Antigo in the second to win 6-5.
The Hodags almost had a sixth GNC title, but Wild fell to Tyler Husnick of Antigo in three sets. Wild earned the No. 1 singles title last season as well as conference player of the year, but couldn’t make it two straight. Wild took the first set in a tiebreaker, in another close set, Wild would fall in the second set. And in the third set, Husnick rallied for a 10-8 victory.
Antigo placed their top two singles players to the No. 1 doubles flight for the GNC tournament. The Hodags duo of Gilbert and Fabich fell to Drew Schwarz and Ben Bartletti in the finals in straight sets.
Rhinelander will be back in action on Thursday when they host an invite at the RHS tennis courts which will include Ashland, Newman Catholic, and Shawano. The Hodags will also host the WIAA Division 2 subsectionals on Monday May, 22nd.
The Rhinelander High School boys' tennis team now sits 14 points ahead of Antigo in the Great Northern Conference as they head into the conference meet. The Hodags used a pair of three-setter victories to defeat the Robins 5-2 on Tuesday at the RHS tennis courts. RHS will host the 2017 GNC tournament as the Hodags start in a good position as they seek their fourth straight conference title.
Before the rival dual, RHS would only need to win two of the seven flights to enter Saturday's meet in first place. The remaining three victories on the evening gave the Hodags some extra cushion in the GNC race.
Russell Benoy at No. 4 singles, was the lone Hodag singles player to win in straight sets against Antigo. Bennoy defeated Tanner Stueck of the Robins 6-4, 6-1.
The two other Rhinelander straight set victories came in doubles. At the second doubles flight, Conner Young and Jared Young downed Brody Bunnell and Collin Schedlbaurer 6-3, 6-4. While Marshall Bessette and Logan Oestrich at No. 3 doubles recorded a 6-2, 6-1 win over Jake Waters and Cole Johnson.
The remaining two Hodag victories came in three-setters. At No. 1 doubles Jared Fabich and Grant Gilbert started strong with a 6-4 first set win over Tommy Blink and Andrew Turunen. But the Antigo duo rallied back in the second to edge Gilbert/Fabich 7-5 and force the tiebreaker. Fabich and Gilbert’s early 3-0 advantage in the third set helped propel them to a 6-3 win.
And at the top singles flight, Logan Wild was consistent in the first set and downed Drew Schwarz of the Robins 6-3. In the second set, Schwarz pushed right back and turned the tables to earn a 6-4 win and force the first set. In the seven-point tiebreaker, Wild would close the set 7-4 for the win.
Rhinelander's two losses of the evening came in singles action. Markus Johnson at No. 2 singles suffered his first loss of the season. Tyler Husnick of Antigo defeated Johnson 6-4, 6-3.
Matt O'Melia at No. 3 singles would fall in his first GNC career match in three-sets to Ben Bartletti. In the marathon match, Bartletti had a strong start with a 6-2 win. But O'Melia battled in the second to win 7-6 (5) and force the third set. In the final set, Bartlettia edged O'Melia 7-6 (8), for Antigo's final win of the night.
With the Hodags' 5-2 victory, they continued to improve and will look to have momentum going into Saturday's GNC tournament that they will hold on their home court. The tournament will begin at 9:00AM at the RHS tennis courts, as Rhinelander looks for another conference title.
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