9/12/2017 7:27:00 AM T-Bird tennis youngsters continue to improve
Dean Hall/Lakeland Times
Mariah Lear returns a volley in No. 3 doubles as her partner Brie Nimsgern looks on for Lakeland during a match against Columbus Catholic on Thursday, Sept. 7, at Lakeland Union High School.
Lakeland Union High School had a busy week on the tennis courts. The Thunderbirds were originally scheduled to play a doubleheader on Tuesday at Phillips, but that match was rained out.
They still managed to play five matches in three days, however, starting with a triangular against Columbus Catholic and Ashland on Thursday and three matches at the Wausau East Invitational on Saturday. Lakeland went 1-4 in those matches.
Lakeland 7, Columbus Catholic 0
Lakeland hosted Columbus Catholic and Ashland on Thursday and began the evening by sweeping the former, snapping a three-match losing streak within the Great Northern Conference.
Riley Curtis defeated Sophia Mauney in No. 1 singles, 6-1, 6-0. Morgan Ahrens got back on the winning track after dropping three straight matches to beat Cassidy Strey, 6-0, 6-0, in No. 2 singles. Jaeden Boisvert earned her first varsity win by beating Helen Voss, 6-2, 7-5, in No. 3 singles. Alayna Twelmeyer also made her season debut in singles competition, beating Ryleigh McGivern, 0-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Reilly Coon and Hayley Fieck beat Allison Skrienes and Taylor Tolppi in No. 1 doubles, while Catherine Trapp and Brie Nimsgern won in No. 2 doubles and Julie Neuberg and Mariah Lear won in No. 3 doubles.
"I made some minor changes to our lineup just to get a few more wins as a team," LUHS head coach Tom Oestreich said. "The entire lineup, that was by far the best match they had played all year so I was really happy with everyone."
Ashland 5, Lakeland 2
After a short hiatus while Columbus Catholic lost to Ashland, Lakeland came back out onto the courts to face the Oredockers in the first match of the season under the lights, a la the U.S. Open.
While all four members of the singles group were beaten, the T-Birds did come up with two big wins in doubles play.
Reilly Coon and Hayley Fieck defeated Jaida Larson and Alphia Korpela in No. 1 singles in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4. The No. 2 doubles pairing of Julie Neuberg and Catherine Trapp also came up with a win against Sophia Root and Kieren Nortunen, 6-3, 6-3.
"Our doubles have been up and down all year, but on Thursday both of those teams had their best matches of the season," Oestreich said. "So I was really happy for them, especially that Ashland match. Yes, we lost the other five matches, but I was really fired up about those two wins that the doubles girls got. The girls were just grinning from ear to ear after that one."
Wausau East Invite
Lakeland played three dual meets at the Wausau West Invitational on Saturday against three bigger and more accomplished programs, and that was reflected in the scores.
The T-Birds dropped a trio of 7-0 matches to Wausau East, Newman Catholic and Kimberly.
"All these teams are not in our division come sectional time," Oestreich said. "All of them had girls that play tennis all year. I just told the girls to go out there and hit and give it the best you got. All of those schools have super teams, they play all over the state to play. I told the girls, 'Don't worry about the score, just go work on your game and learn from your match today.'"
In the final match of the day against Kimberly, Oestreich switched up the lineup a bit, allowing Curtis to pair with Coon in No. 1 doubles. Asucena Boyer also made her varsity debut in No. 4 singles in that match.
Even though she didn't win a match on the day, the play of Boisvert stood out to Oestreich.
"Her scores didn't show it, but she continues to get better and better as the season goes on," Oestreich said. "Jaeden Boisvert is definitely improving and she was really proud of her performance. Cierra Hayman put up a battle in her matches and continues to get better with her ground strokes and movements. I'm pleased with her performance today. All of these girls are learning and hitting against these girls that are really good."
Lakeland has another GNC match at home against Antigo today at 5 p.m. The Red Robins defeated the T-Birds, 6-1, back on Aug. 24.
Nick Sabato may be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @SabatoNick.