The Rhinelander High School boys' tennis team under head Coach Bob Heideman will being seeking their sixth straight Great Northern Conference title this season and return five starters and seven total seniors. But the Hodags will have plenty of voids they will need to fill this season after losing five netters to graduation last season.
Rhinelander will return most of their singles lineup including senior Russel Benoy, sophomore Jacob Weddle, and senior Freddy Wisner. RHS will need to replace their top singles player and state qualifier from last year, Markus Johnson who graduated. Benoy finished second in the GNC at No. 2 singles and Weddle and Wisner won No. 3 and No. 3 singles conference champions. Senior Ian Conkey will likely fill the fourth singles position.
But the biggest questions mark for this season will be in doubles actions, where Rhinelander lost four of their six doubles players to graduation. RHS will need to replace Jared Haug (No. 1 doubles), Jared Fabich and Grant Gilbert (No. 2 doubles), as well as Cade Aschenbrenner (No. 3 doubles). Rhinelander will only return two doubles players from last years roster; seniors Connor Young and Logan Oestreich.
The Hodags scrimmaged on Saturday in Ashland and filled their No. 2 positions with a a pair of freshman; Elijah Evers and Luke Ring. And their third flight consisted of senior Bridger Flory and sophomore Billy Berwig.
Last season RHS went 8-0 in GNC duals that included going 48-8 in conference matches. The Hodags easily won the conference title with 134 points. Medford and Pacelli each finished with 81 points in the GNC to follow. Rhinelander earned second in subsectionals and fourth at the Kohler sectionals.
Looking ahead to their conference competition, Rhinelander is not the only team that will have positions to fill, as no No. 1 singles players in the GNC returns this season. Pacelli lost seven netters to graduation last year and the Raiders also lost three seniors. But the Hodags are optimistic and will push for a sixth consecutive GNC title.
Rhinelander was originally scheduled to start their season tomorrow at Pacelli, but has been postponed to Monday April, 29th. SO RHS will travel to Wausau East on Friday and Saturday for an invite. The Hodags first home match is set for Tuesday April, 16h for a triangular against Ashland and Wausau Newman.
Aside from their GNC schedule, Rhinelander will be at Wausau West Invite on May 3rd/4th. The 2019 GNC Meet will be be at Lakeland on Saturday May 11th. Lakeland will also host subsectionals on May 20th. RHS and Appleton Xavier have battled the last few years for the top spot in subsectionals, but will have more competition this season as Green Bay Notre Dame drops to Division 2.