The Rhinelander High School boys' tennis team charted their fifth straight Great Northern Conference title. The Hodags cruised to titles in five flights and finished runner-up in the remaining two flights at Elleson Tennis Courts in Antigo on Friday. RHS recorded 38 points on the day and also matched their own team recorded they set last season.
Although Rhinelander actually clenched the conference title before play began Friday morning, after they held a 36-point lead. All seven flights for RHS earned first-round byes
"We took some lumps earlier in the week but came out on a mission today," Coach Bob Heideman said. "We hit on all cylinders today and that was led by our five seniors. The first class to win a conference championship all four years since I don't know when."
Rhinelander senior Markus Johnson earned the GNC single player of the year and would get back to strong serving to cruise to wins against Antigo's Tanner Stueck and Medford's Alec Shear. In the semifinal round Johnson defeated Stueck 6-4, 6-3 and in the finals he downed Shear 6-3, 6-3.
"He has paid his dues, well deserved and much easier than his first match with Alec," Heideman said of Johnson.
At No. 3 singles, Rhinelander freshman Jacob Weddle breezed through his competition against Jarrett Shields of Pacelli and Sterling Reilly of Medford. In the semifinal round, Weddle won 6-1, 6-1 over Shields and in the championship match he cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Reilly.
After falling in three-set matches earlier in the week, junior Freddy Wisner at No. 4 singles battled his way back to earn the GNC title. Wisner was down 4-5 in the second set and down love-40 in the game, he fended off three consecutive points and forced a third set tiebreaker. Wisner used that momentum to push through and closed the match 7-5, 7-.
"We had some close sets, but generally came out okay," said Hedieman. "Freddy had to put together a streak of 11 straight points to pull out his last set."
In doubles action, Jared Fabich and Grant Gilbert at the No. 2 doubles flight defeated Medford's Armin Kliewe and Logan Searles 6-4, 6-2 in the semifinals. Gilbert/Fabich finished the day strong with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Jared McFarlane and Zach Reineke of Antigo.
"Grant and Jared played perhaps their best set of the year in their last set," noted Heideman. "Cade and Logan had a close set in the semis."
Also winning in doubles for Rhinelander was Logan Oestreich and Cade Aschenbrenner at the third doubles flight. In the semifinals Aschenbrenner/Oestreich fended off Carson Kleist and Zach Kawa of Medford 6-1, 7-5. And the Hodag duo downed Pacelli's Andrew Pisaraski and Isaac Kosoloucki of Pacelli 6-1, 6-2 in the championship round.
At the top doubles flight, Connor Young and Jared Haug started the day strong with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Antigo's Joe Barletti and Brody Bunnell. But in the finals would fall to 2-6, 6-7 to Lakeland's Jack Garcia and Anthony Holmes and the Hodag duo would earn runner-up.
Russell Benoy at No. 2 singles earned runner-up and started with a forfeit win before falling 4-6, 2-6 to Pacelli's Corey Baron in the finals.
"Russell and No. 1 doubles had much closer matches with their opponents in the championship match than earlier this year," Heideman said. "They walked off the courts with the sense they had upped their games."
Rhinelander will now focus on playoffs and will host the WIAA subsectionals at the RHS Tennis Courts on Monday. The top four finishers at No. 1 singles and doubles as well as the top two finishers in the remaining flights will advance to the Kohler sectionals.
The Rhinelander High School boys 'team appears to be on the right track to earn their fourth consecutive Great Northern Conference title after sweeping Pacelli in a doubleheader Wednesday and following it with a 7-0 win over Antigo at home on Thursday. RHS will enter Friday's GNC meet with a minimum of a 30-point lead and will have a cushion ahead of the conference, which may likely result in clenching the title before they even begin.
The GNC doubleheader on Wednesday was moved indoors to SentryWorld in Stevens Point due to the rain. Rhinelander would cruise to a 6-1, 6-1 sweep.
The Hodags returned senior Markus Johnson to the top of the singles lineup after a sore shoulder he bumped down to No. 2 doubles. Johnson had no troubles and would down Nick Hasler 6-0, 6-1 in the first dual and then 6-2, 6-1 in the second match.
At No. 3 singles, Jacob Weddle blanked Jarrett Shields 6-0, 6-0 in the first match and then followed with a 6-1, 6-1 win against Trevin Milbaur in the second. Freddy Wsiner defeated Ben Kroening 6-2, 6-1 and then downed Sam Lamotte 6-0, 6-1.
The top doubles team of Jared Haug and Connor Young would sweep Pacelli's Matthias Kroening and Charlie Kullick. The first match Young/Haug earned the 6-3, 6-2 win and followed it up with a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Jared Fabich and Grant Gilbert would cruise to a 6-1, 6-2 match win against Lamotte and Chris Jensen. But then in the second match, Gilbert/Fabich fell in the first set 6-1 to Thomas Basala and Jensen. In the second set Fabich and Gilbert clawed their way back to take the second set 6-1 before earning a 10-6 in the third-set tiebreaker.
At No. 3 doubles, Rhinelander duo of Cade Aschenbrenner and Logan Oestreich defeated Andrew Pisarski and Issac Kosoloucki 6-1, 6-2. And Oestreich/Ashenbrenner would then down Kroening and Pisarski 6-0, 6-2. At No. 2 singles, Russell Benoy would have Rhinelander’s only losses of the day after a tough match up against Corey Baron. Antigo
The Hodags then followed it up with a convincing 7-0 sweep against Antigo at the RHS tennis courts on Thursday. Rhinelander would win all seven flights in straight sets against the Robins, which last about an hour.
Johnson would have the longest match of the evening but still cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win against Tanner Stueck at the top singles flight. Benoy bounced back at No. 2 singles and won 6-0, 6-1 against Alex Gray. Weddle (No. 3 singles) and Wisner (No. 4 singles) both cruised to 6-0, 6-0 wins for the Hodags.
While Rhinelander's double teams also all won in straight sets and only lost seven games combined. Young and Haug would grind out a 6-2, 6-2 win at the No. 1 doubles flight against Brody Bunnell and Joe Bartletti.
Gilbert and Fabich made short-work against Jared McFarlane and Zach Reineke and won 6-1, 6-0. And Oestreich and Aschenbrenner had similar paths at No. 3 doubles and would win 6-0, 6-2.
The Hodags will travel to Appleton Xavier on Tuesday and then will be back in action at the RHS tennis courts on Thursday when they host a quadrangular against Ashland, Newman Catholic, and Shawano. This week’s boys' tennis schedule will be a look at the WIAA Division 2 subsectional that Rhinelander will host next Monday.
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