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Five reach state tennis

Five Raiders will end their seasons at the WIAA State individual Tennis Tournament this week after earning qualifying spots at last Wednesday's Wausau East Sectional. From left are Kelsie Hines, Julia Douglas, Alex Johnson, Sydney Squires and Bailey Knight.

Hudson will be well-represented at this week's WIAA Individual State Tennis Tournament when two doubles teams and one individual head to Madison for the crowing jewel to the girls' tennis season.

Seniors Bailey Knight and Alex Johnson won their first match at No. 1 doubles at last Wednesday's Wausau East Sectional to clinch a berth at state, while the No. 2 doubles team of juniors Julia Douglas and Sydney Squires, and No. 1 singles player, junior Kelsie Hines, all played well enough to earn spots as extra qualifiers.

It's the first time ever a Raider tennis team will be sending five individuals to the state tournament.

The Raiders finished third at last Wednesday's 18-team WIAA Division 1 Sectional, just one point behind second place Stevens Point. Eau Claire Memorial was the runaway winner with a total of 50 points, followed by Stevens Point with 21 and Hudson with 20.

Raider head coach Dave Dahl said all five players earned the right to play at state.

"I'm certainly thrilled to take five to state for the first time ever," he said. "Only a select few athletes earn the right to finish their seasons on the state tournament stage."

Knight and Johnson defeated the team from Rhinelander, 6-0, 7-5, in their opening match to seal their trip to state. They went on to lose to Eau Claire Memorial, 3-6, 4-6, and New Richmond, 3-6, 2-6, to place fourth in the sectional.

"They won the big one today to earn their trip to Madison," Dahl said. "These two have had a very successful season at the top doubles spot and they're really excited to see what they can do at state. This was their goal from the start of the season and I'm happy they get to represent Hudson one more time."

Hines lost to a player from Marshfield, 2-6, 0-6, in her opening match but earned the sectional extra-qualifier spot by virtue of her strong play this season at No. 1 singles.

"Kelsie won enough big matches during the season to earn herself the special qualifier spot," Dahl said. "She's a very hard worker and what a great place for her to finish the season."

Squires and Douglas beat the team from Wisconsin Rapids, 7-6, 6-4, before falling to Eau Claire Memorial, 4-6, 7-5, 2-5, in the sectional title match.

"It's not that often that a No. 2 doubles team earns the special qualifier spot, but here too based on a season with numerous quality wins and a 26-5 record, these two were selected over many one doubles teams," Dahl said.

Dahl said Squires and Douglas will certainly gain some great experience when they go up against Morgan Drezek and Reagan Schmidt (31-2) from Divine Savior Holy Angels in a match scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday.

Knight and Johnson will take a 23-8 record into their opening round match against Olivia Lueck and Alli Zeman (11-12) of Burlington at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Hines (18-11) will open state tournament play against Emily Mone (17-12) of Nicolet Thursday at 2 p.m.

The WIAA State Girls Tennis Tournament will run through Saturday at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.

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.
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