The Rhinelander High School boys' tennis team not only tied for first place and advanced all seven flights on to sectionals when they hosted the WIAA Division 2 sub-sectionals at the RHS tennis courts, but they also made history in the process. It marked 20 years since the RHS boys' team accomplished what they did on Monday.
Out the nine teams competing in the sub-sectional, RHS tied with Appleton Xavier, each recording 24 points on the day, and each send all seven flights on to the WIAA Division 2 Sectional that will be held in Kohler. The top flights in singles and doubles needed to make it the sectional semifinals to advance, while the remaining flights had to advance to the final level.
Antigo (10 points), Lakeland (8 eight points), Newman Catholic (4 points), Shawano (4 points), Stevens Point Pacelli (2 points), Fox Valley Lutheran (0 points), and Medford (0 points) rounded out the remaining sub-sectional teams.
Rhinelander started the day with solid seedings in their sectional with three number one seeds. Markus Johnson (No. 2 singles), Russell Benoy (No. 4 singles) and Connor Young/Jared Haug (No. 2 doubles) all earned top seeds.
The Hodags also earned a pair of second seeds; Matt O'Melia (No. 3 singles) and Marshall Bessette/Logan Oestreich (No. 3 doubles). At No. 1 singles, Logan Wild started with a third seed. And Grant Gilbert and Jared Fabich (No. 1 doubles) were a fourth seed.
Wild only needed one match to advance and made short work of Shawn Klemens of Shawano where he earned a 6-3, 6-2 straight set win. Fabich and Gilbert had a convincing 6-0, 6-1 victory over Carter Ray and Jake Merrill of Medford to move on to sectionals.
The remaining Rhinelander flights each needed to earn two match wins to advance. Johns defeated Noah Steinberg (Fox Valley Lutheran) and Corey Barron (Pacelli) each in straight sets. While Benoy blanked Jarret Sheilds (Pacelli) 6-0, 6-0 and downed Aric Van Order (Lakeland) 6-1, 6-1 to advance. And Haug and Young charted straight set wins over Shawano and Fox Valley Lutheran.
Oestreich and Bessette opened with a win over Wausau Newman and would see some familiar faces in their final match. Bessette and Oestreich faced Jake Waters and Brody Bunnell (Antigo) in rematch from the Great Northern Conference championship match at No. 3 doubles. The Hodag duo would prevail with a 6-2, 6-3.
O'Melia started his first match strong and quickly was up 4-1 in the first set against Luke Johnson (Wausau Newman). But Johnson rallied back to tie the set up 5-5, before he took two straight games to win 7-5. With the momentum in his favor, O'Melia finished strong to win 6-1 in the final set. And in the second match, O'Melia had over a 30-minute rain delay before defeating Tanner Stueck (Antigo) 6-1, 6-3.
Looking ahead to the WIAA sectionals, the top four-finishes in the No. 1 singles and the sectional champions in the No. 2 flights will earn a trip the state tournament. The Hodags’ will head to Kohler Wednesday in hopes to advancing some netters to the 2017 WIAA Division 2 state tournament held in Madison on June 10th.
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.
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