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Hudson's Eric Kromer gets set to return a shot in his first-round match with doubles partner Josh Szyman at the Big Rivers Conference Tennis Tournament Saturday in River Falls. Kromer and Szyman went on to place third at No. 1 doubles. Photo by Bob Burrows

Raider tennis takes second in BRC

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Hudson reached the finals in six of seven positions at the 2009 Big Rivers Conference Tennis Tournament Saturday on its way to a second-place tournament finish and second place in the final team standings.

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Eau Claire Memorial won the tourney title with 40 points to clinch the BRC championship while the Raiders sealed second place with 29 tournament points. Eau Claire North finished third, River Falls and Menomonie tied for fourth and Chippewa Falls finished sixth.

Hudson had representatives in the finals at all four singles positions and No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. The No. 2 doubles team of Stephen Hilding and Joe Hanson won the Raiders' only title of the day by defeating Joe Wollom and Erik Olson of Eau Claire Memorial, 6-2, 7-5, in the finals.

Hilding and Hanson reached the finals with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Justin Campbell and Tyler Moody of Eau Claire North in the semis.

After starting out strong with a 6-2 win in the opening set against Wollom and Olson in the finals, the Memorial duo appeared on the verge of turning things around by jumping out to a 5-2 lead in the second. But Hilding and Hanson responded by winning five straight games to clinch the title by a score of 7-5.

Hilding and Hanson are the only conference team at any position to post a win against an Eau Claire Memorial opponent.

"This pair put on an impressive display of teamwork and strong volleys to frustrate the Memorial pair," Raider head coach Jon Hilding said.

Vitor Linhares also recorded a milestone by becoming the first conference player to win a set against Eau Claire Memorial's No. 1 singles player Christian Phelps. In the finals against Phelps, Linhares won the first set, 6-2, before Phelps fought back to record a 7-5 win in the second. Phelps clinched the conference title with a 6-1 victory in the third, and deciding set.

Max Hawksford at No. 2 singles, Zach Blum at No. 3, and Saajan Bhakta at the No. 4 position also reached their respective finals before finishing second to players from Eau Claire Memorial.

Hawksford was defeated by Michael Roden, 6-0, 6-0, Blum lost to Kevin Harp 6-1, 6-3, and Bhakta was defeated by Tommy Kishaba, 7-5, 6-0.

The Raiders other finals appearance came from the duo of Nick Yannarelly and Ryan Hanes at No. 3 doubles, where they lost to Eau Claire Memorial's Joe Liege and Drew Schaefer, 6-1, 6-4.

The Raider's No. 1 doubles team of Josh Szyman and Eric Kromer lost to Eau Claire Memorial's Florent Marko and Ryan VandeLine, 6-2, 6-0, in the semifinals but bounced back to take third place with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Jimmy Ekman and Nick Ambur of River Falls.

As a result of their fine play at the conference tournament, Linhares, Hilding and Hanson earned All-BRC First Team honors while Hawksford, Blum, Bhakta, Szyman, Kromer, Yannarelly ad Hanes were named to the second team.

Earlier in the week the Raiders closed out the regular season with a 5-2 victory over Eau Claire North on Tuesday. Hawksford, Blum and Bhakta won in singles play while Hilding and Hanson, and Yannarelly and Hanes won in doubles competition.

Next up for the Raiders is the WIAA subsection Tuesday, May 26, at Eau Claire Memorial. Qualifiers will advance to the sectional Thursday, May 28, in Stevens Point.

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Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
(715) 426-1047
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