Although the Rhineland High School girls' tennis team reign at the top of the Great Northern Conference came to an end in 2017 season, they had several highlights throughout the season. Also with a majority of the team being underclassmen, the Hodags' and Coach Bob Heideman know the future is bright, and will continue to work to be at the top of the GNC and hopes to advance more netters into playoffs.
The Robins won their first ever GNC conference and finished 9-1 in the conference standings and held a seven-point advantage over RHS, charting 159 points after the GNC tournament. The Hodags also finished 9-1 in the conference and 15-6 overall but only had 152 points. Medford finished third, Lakeland placed fourth, Columbus Catholic came in fifth, and Phillips rounded out the GNC.
Rhinelander ran into a challenge entering their season, where they had to fill vital rolls on their varsity squad. The Hodags' 2016 team graduated their top two singles players as well as top two doubles team. So senior Belinda Weddle stepped into the top singles flight after playing No. 3 singles the season before. Livi Roberts and Haley Seefeldt also advanced to the top doubles flight from No. 3 doubles last year. And Alex Oestreich went from No. 4 singles to No. 2 singles.
The Hodags started their conference season off strong, sweeping Columbus Catholic in a doubleheader and followed with a 6-1 win over Medford, and 7-0 sweeps over Phillips and Lakeland.
Rhinelander would then hold a 4-3 edge over GNC rival Antigo at the end of August and would hold the upper hand in the conference race at 5-0. But after facing tough non-conference competition in the Green Bay Southwest Tournament, the Hodags couldn't rebound, and fell in a pivotal GNC dual on the road on September, 5th.
Antigo turned the tables and would defeat RHS 5-2 in their second GNC dual of the season against the Robins. And then the rest of the season, Rhinelander had to battle from behind.
Enteingr the GNC meet four points behind, the Hodags were unable to make-up ground, but still walked away with three individual conference titles. In singles Emma Roberts (No. 3 singles) and Kenedy Van Zile (No. 4 singles) each earned individual titles in their flights. And Madi Losch and Alexis Pyrchalla at No. 2 doubles were the only doubles flight for Rhinelander to earn a championship title.
The Robins advanced to championship rounds in six of the seven total flights on the day, and recorded 35 conference points, while the Hodags weren't far behind with 32 points. Which would leave RHS seven overall points shy of Antigo. Maya Gaedtke of Antigo earned singles player of the year, while teammates Taylor Arrowood and Abby Robrecht earned doubles players of the year. Coach Aimee Hein of Antigo earned Coach of the year as well.
Weddle proved to be the lone Hodag to advance to the WIAA Division 2 sectionals and also charted a runner-up finish in the GNC. Only one round shy of heading to the 2017 WIAA State Tournament, Weddle finished her high school career falling to top-seed Sierra Auleta of Eau Claire Memorial. Weddle finished her senior year 15-10 overall and had an impressive 81-25 varsity career record and qualified for sectionals all four years.
Roberts and Weddle are the only two RHS girls' tennis players to graduate from the 2017 season team. And looking ahead, the Hodags' bring back a core group of netters with varsity experience and will look to get back on top of the GNC next season.
The Rhinelander High School girls' tennis team tied for fifth place at the WIAA Division 1 Subsectionals on Monday at Wisconsin Rapids. The Hodags only won two matches on the day, and senior Belinda Weddle was the lone netter to advance to Wednesday's WIAA Sectional in Wausau.
At the top singles flight, Weddle used a 6-3, 6-2 win over Ashley Schultz of Marshfield to advance to the WIAA Division 1 Sectionals.
While Emma Roberts at No. 3 singles was only one match shy of joining teammate Weddle at sectionals. Roberts defeated Zoe Gilmaster of Wisconsin Rapids 6-4, 7-5 but would drop to Lea Ratanawon of Wausau East, 6-1, 6-1.
Dara Stichert of Marshfield defeat Alex Oestriech (6-2, 6-4) at the second singles flight. And Kenedy Van Zile fell 4-6, 2-6 to senior Claire Bizjak of Wausau West.
On the doubles side of actions, Rhinelander had several close sets, but would end up dropping all three flights in straight sets to end their 2017 season. At the top doubles flight Livi Roberts and Haley Seefeldt fell 3-6, 4-6 to Erin Achatz/Kylie Rennie of West.
No. 2 doubles team of Ellie Schuerman/Paige Vruwink of Wisconsin Rapids earned a 5-7, 5-7 win over Rhinelander’s Madi Losch and Alexi Prychalla. And Jackie Wells and Savannah Chartier fell 4-6, 5-7 to Jenna Boeck/Anna Hlavac of Stevents Point.
Wausau West Sectionals
Of Rhinelander's 10 varsity girls', Weddle would be the only member to move on and battle at sectionals on Wednesday morning in the WIAA Division 2 quarterfinal match.
Ending her varsity tennis career, Weddle fell to tough competition and was eliminated only one round away from heading to the 2017 WIAA State Tournament. Top-seed Sierra Auleta of Eau Claire Memorial would sweep Weddle 6-1, 6-0.
The top four players at No. 1 singles at the sectional would advance to state. Auleta went on to finish second in sectionals, falling to undefeated Sabrina Tang of Stevens Point in the championship match. Auleta is also no stranger to the WIAA State tournament, after she advanced to round 32 in 2016 in Division 1 at No. 2 singles.
Weddle would finish her senior season 15-10 at the top singles flight and she went 81-25 in her varsity career. She also was part of two Great Northern Conference championships and she qualified for sectionals all four years.
Rhinelander finished 9-1 in the GNC, but their reign at the top of the conference was put to an end, after Antigo edged the Hodags in the final stretch of their regular season.
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