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Tennis handed first BRC loss

Hudson senior Anna Wilgren narrowly avoids teammate Taylor Owens as she returns a shot in the No. 1 doubles match against Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, Sept. 14, at the high school courts. Wilgren and Owens recorded a 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 victory but the Raiders dropped a 5-2 decision to the defending Big Rivers Conference champion Old Abes. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Hudson's Laura Douglas hits a hard smash in her No. 2 doubles match with partner Lexi LeFever in the Raider girls tennis team's 5-2 Big Rivers Conference loss to Eau Claire Memorial Thursday, Sept. 14, in Hudson. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

Hudson's girls tennis team may have lost the war to Eau Claire Memorial last Thursday, Sept 14, but it won a few battles.

In a clash between the only two undefeated teams in the Big Rivers Conference, the seven-time defending conference champion Old Abes went home with a 5-2 victory, but Hudson coach John Knutson said he was proud of his team for winning two of the three doubles matches.

"I was very, very happy," Knutson said.

Hudson's No. 1 doubles team of juniors Annika Lewis and Kate Johnson remained the Raiders most consistent players this season by winning in straight sets, 7-5 and 6-3. But Knutson said the match of the day had to be at No. 1 doubles, where after splitting the first two sets, 7-5, 5-7, senior captains Taylor Owens and Anna Wilgren dominated the third set in a 6-0 win.

"I told our girls after the second set that the third set isn't as much physical as it is mental and you have to be tougher than them to win it," Knutson said. "You have to believe you can do it. Well they not only believed they could do it, they pounded them. It was incredible and really exciting seeing our senior captains steamroll an Eau Claire Memorial team. That doesn't happen often, but we were sure glad it happened tonight."

Owens and Wilgren kept up their strong play at the two-day Wisconsin Valley Conference/Big Rivers Conference Challenge Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16 in Eau Claire, going 4-0 to help Hudson tie Menomonie for second place with identical records of 3-1. Eau Claire Memorial won the team title with a mark of 4-0.

Hudson opened the two-day tournament with a 4-3 victory over Wausau West, with Owens and Wilgren leading a sweep of the doubles matches by scores of 6-1, 6-1. Lewis and Johnson remained undefeated with a 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 2 doubles spot while Lexi LeFever and Laura Douglas won 6-4, 6-0 at No 3. Freshman Sophia Jonas earned the Raiders fourth and deciding point of the day with a 6-3, 6-0 win at No. 4 singles.

Hudson went on to to sweep Marshfield, 7-0, in its second match Friday with Ella Diedrich, Lauren Stolzman, Holy LeBrun and Jonas winning in singles play and all three doubles teams winning in straight sets.

"It's nice to get the 7-0 win once in awhile where your team dominates at each position," Knutson noted.

Saturday's first match proved to be the toughest of the tournament for Hudson as Wausau East avenged a loss to the Raiders earlier this season with a 5-2 victory. Jonas earned a victory at No. 4 singles and Owens and Wilgren picked up a win at No. 1 doubles while Lewis and Johnson suffered their first loss of the season in a tiebreaker, 6-7, 7-5 (10-4).

"Jonas is really playing great tennis for us," Knutson said. "She's much more mature than her grade level as a freshman may indicate and she's athletic. I also love how coachable she is, taking a strategy suggestion and implementing it to her advantage. And our senior captains came through again. They are really hitting their stride now, and I don't want to jinx them, but they should continue to improve and make a nice run into the state tournament."

Hudson ended the tournament with a 7-0 victory over D.C. Everest.

"It was great to see senior Alex Favilla and junior Rylee Swenke get good top ten wins for us today along with Diedrich and Jonas in singles," Knutson said. "We sat our No. 1 doubles team and pulled up sophomores Kaliegh Sansone and Hilda Nuutinen, who also won easily with 6-0, 6-1 scores in their match."

The Raiders visited Chippewa Falls for a BRC match Tuesday, Sept. 19, and will host Menomonie Thursday, Sept. 21, at 4 p.m. before the BRC Tournament at Eau Claire North Saturday, Sept. 23.

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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