The Rhinelander High School girls' tennis team continued to dominate the Great Northern Conference for the fall 2016 season and earned their seventh consecutive conference title. Here is a look back at the Hodags and Coach Bob Heideman's accomplishments this season as well as what to look forward to in 2017.
Rhinelander finished the year with an impressive 20-4 overall record in dual meets, which included going perfect at 10-0 in the GNC standings. Despite not sending anyone to the WIAA state tennis meet, the Hodags still advanced two netters to sectionals; Ivy Packard and Belinda Weddle.
Not only was winning seven straight GNC titles a great accomplishment, but Coach Heideman also hit some important milestones in his coaching career. On September 10th, RHS defeated Medford at the RHS tennis courts and it also marked Heideman's 200th win in his 18th season as the girls' tennis coach. If you include the boys' victories, Heideman will only be seven wins shy of reaching 500 career wins.
RHS started the year in a non-conference invite held in Wausau and finished undefeated at 3-0 on the day. The Hodags had two close finishes, but was able to edge Newman Catholic and Wausau East in matching 4-3 duals. And Rhinelander then blanked D.C. Everest 7-0. And that momentum would carry over to their GNC schedule.
The Hodags opened the conference schedule with a doubleheader sweep of 7-0, 7-0 against Columbus Catholic and would from there, never looked back.
Rhinelander's biggest challenge in the conference would prove to be Lakeland, but RHS was still able to defeat the Thunderbirds in match 5-2 duals each time they faced in 2016.
Early in September the Hodags took part in the Green Bay Southwest Invite, and would face fierce non-conference competition. RHS would finish 1-3, with their only win coming against Marshfield in a 7-0 dual. Rhinelander would fall to Green Bay Southwest (7-0), Stevens Point (5-2), and Sheboygan North (4-3).
In their final two conference duals, the Hodags defeated Lakeland on the road and downed Antigo 6-1, giving RHS a perfect GNC record going in to the conference meet.
At the GNC meet that was held at the RHS tennis courts, Rhinelander nearly clenched the title before the meet began, earning four No. 1 seeds and three second seeds.
RHS was able to edge out Lakeland by seven points on the day, and would finish with a 33-point win in the overall GNC standings with 160 points. In the process, the Hodags also won championship titles at three flights and were runner up in the remaining four flights.
Senior Kristina Jacobson earned the No. 2 singles championship titled after defeated 2015 WIAA state qualifier Ali Bogner 6-3, 6-1 in the finals. It also marked Jacobson second straight title.
Teammate Belinda Weddle also earned her second consecutive GNC title, this time at No. 3 singles. In the finals Weddle battled to a 6-3, 7-5 victory of Lakeland's Riley Curtis.
And at No. 3 doubles, the Hodag duo of junior Livi Roberts and sophomore Haley Seefeldt battled to a GNC title, but need a tough three-setter against Antigo to advance to the finals. In the championship match Seefeldt and Roberts downed Medford's Lauryn Strick and Karlee Batchelder 6-3, 6-1 for the title.
Senior Ivy Packard at the number one flight earned a runner up finish in the GNC after falling to foreign exchange student, Elodie Martin of Lakeland in the finals. It also marked the third time this season Packard dropped to Martin, and also was the only player to defeat Packard in the GNC in her four varsity years.
Freshman Alex Oestreich at No. 4 singles, also finished second in the conference, after falling to Morgan Ahrens of Lakeland in the finals.
Rhinelander's first and second flights at doubles also were runners up in the GNC meet. Seniors Ali Schickert and Erica Counter were defeated by Medford's Rylee Anderson and Emily Shipman in the finals. The Hodag duo's lone conference loss in 2016 came to Shipman and Anderson early in the season.
And at No. 2 doubles, seniors Katie Krueger and Hannah Stroede made it to the finals in the GNC meet, but would come up short against Antigo in the finals.
All Rhinelander varsity players earned all-conference recognition on Saturday, based on the outcome of the GNC tournament. Jacobson, Weddle, Seefeldt, and Roberts all claimed first team honors. And Packard, Oestreich, Counter, Schickert, Krueger, and Stroede all earned second team all-conference honors.
What stood out for the RHS girl's tennis team during the 2016 season was their senior leadership. The Hodags varsity lineup had six seniors; Packard, Jacobson, Counter, Schickert, Krueger, and Stroede. The six seniors were also part of an elite group who earned four straight GNC titles.
The RHS girls' tied for third at the Division 1 Sub-sectionals held at Wausau West and advanced two Hodags on to sectionals in Stevens Point. Rhinelander 2015 WIAA State qualifier, Packard as well as Weddle each advanced.
Weddle drew a tough first round match against Isy Thaper of Eau Claire Memorial, who would go on to become the sectional champion at No. 3 singles. Thaper defeated Weddle 6-0, 6-1. But Weddle would come back strong in the third-place match and defeated Gina Fillkins of River Falls in straight sets. Packard fell in her quarterfinal match to Greta Baake of New Richmond.
Despite a tough final high school tennis match, Packard has had a successful high school tennis career which was highlighted by a trip to the WIAA State Tournament in 2015. Weddle, Roberts, and Seefeldt along with several JV netters will join together next season on their journey in hopes of an eighth straight conference title.
After the Rhinelander High School girls' tennis team tied for third at the Division 1 Sub-sectional at Wausau West on Monday, they advanced two players on to sectionals. Senior Ivy Packard and 2015 WIAA State qualifier and junior Belinda Weddle both advanced in their flights to Sectionals in Stevens Point which was moved to Tuesday due to a chance of rain on Wednesday. But both Packard and Weddle would end their season at sectionals.
At the Sub-Sectionals at Wausau, Stevens Point earned the overall team win with 24 points and was followed by Wausau East in second with 18 points. Wausau West and Rhinelander were tied for third with 10 points each. The Hodags finished ahead of Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln, Marshfield, Merrill, and D. C. Everest.
Two of the Hodags extended their 2016 season and reached the finals to qualify for Sectionals, both Packard at No. 1 singles and Weddle at No. 3 singles.
Weddle had to battle through a pair of matches on Monday to advance to Stevens Point. First Weddle started the day strong and raced out to a 3-0 advantage of Jebin Devades of Marshfield and would cruise to a 6-2 first set win, and would close out the set with a 6-1 win. In a much closer match, Weddle fended off Sara Gliniecki of Wausau East and earned a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
And in the No. 1 singles bracket, Packard won her only match of the day with a convincing 6-0, 6-0 win over Megan Peterson of Wausau West.
Nearly joining Weddle and Packard was senior Kristina Jacobson. In the first round Jacobson started strong against Lea Beckman of Merrill and finished with a 6-1, 6-1 win to make it to the final round of the day. And in the finals Jacobson carried the momentum and raced out to a 6-3 first set win, before dropping 2-6 and forcing a tiebreaker against Savannah Carroll of Wausau East. But Carroll would battle back and took the deciding set 7-5.
Fellow seniors Katie Krueger and Hannah Stroede at No. 2 doubles also would advance to the final round, but also came up short in their final match. First Stroede/Krueger battled to a 6-4, 7-5 win over Sierra Humphrey and Olivia Wheat. But then were defeated by Quinn Lodholtz and Chloe Westberg of Wausau East in the finals.
Seniors Ali Schickert and Erica Counter closed out their high school tennis career and fell 6-4, 6-3 to Hanah Gadke and Ashley Schultz of Marshfield.
And No. 3 doubles duo of Livi Roberts and Haley Seefeldt dropped in a matching 6-3, 6-3 set to Paige Vruwink and Ellie Schuerman of Wisconsin Rapids. And No. 4 singles Alex Oestreich fell 6-2, 6-4 to McKensey Koran of Marshfield.
On Wednesday, Weddle drew a tough first round match against Isy Thaper of Eau Claire Memorial, who went on to become the sectional champion at No. 3 singles. Weddle dropped 6-0, 6-1, but would come back strong in the third-place match at Goerke Park in Stevens Point. Weddle then defeated Gina Filkins of River Falls in a straight set win to earned third at sectionals.
Packard dropped her sectional quarterfinal match against Greta Baake of New Richmond, which was held at the Stevens Point Area High School. Baake would work Packard in the first set and took a 6-1 win. Packard started down 0-1 before winning two straight games to take a 2-1 advantage, but couldn’t hold that momentum and dropped the final set 6-2.
Despite a tough final high school tennis match, Packard has had very successful seasons included a highlighted trip to the WIAA State Tournament in 2015. Rhinelander closed their 2016 season with their seventh Great Northern Conference title and won't forget the hard work and dedication of their six seniors; Packard, Jacobson, Schickert, Counter, Stroede, and Krueger.
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