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Raider tennis takes third at sectional

The Raider boys' tennis team wrapped up a successful season by taking second at last Tuesday's 16-team subsectional tournament in Eau Claire and third at Thursday's 16-team sectional in Stevens Point.

Big Rivers Conference champion Eau Claire Memorial won the sectional title with 52 team points followed by Stevens Point with 43 and Hudson with 27.

The Raiders earned a second place finish at No. 2 doubles, third place finishes at No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 singles, and a fourth place finish at No. 3 doubles.

"The Raiders had a wonderful season and can be very proud of their many accomplishments," head coach Jon Hilding said. "Finishing in the top three at the sectional tournament is quite a feat and shows the depth of our team and the determination of our players. Congratulations to the boys on a fine season."

At Tuesday's subsectional, Hudson advanced in six of seven positions, including Vitor Linhares, Max Hawksford, Zach Blum and Saajan Bhakta at all four singles positions. Stephen Hilding and Joe Hanson also moved on to the sectional round at No. 2 doubles, as did Nick Yannarelly and Ryan Hanes at No. 3 doubles.

Hilding and Hanson opened sectional play with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jordan Rhode and Mike Sweeney of Rhinelander before losing out to Eau Claire Memorial's Erik Olson and Joe Wollum in the finals to take second and post the Raiders highest finish of the day.

Hawksford won both of his matches at No. 2 singles Tuesday before losing to Michael Chang of Stevens Point, 6-1, 6-1, in his first match Thursday. He rebounded to take third place with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Michael Rask of D.C. Everest.

Blum also placed third after winning both of his subsectional matches at No. 3 singles. He dropped a 6-4, 6-4 decision to Aaron Pavelski of Stevens Point in the semifinals before beating Peter Boetcher of Wisconsin Rapids, 6-1, 6-1 in the third place match.

At No. 4 singles, Bhakta went undefeated Tuesday before losing a close match to Zaq Daniels of Stevens Point, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in Thursday's semifinal. But he bounced back to take third place with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Andy Stanton of Wisconsin Rapids in the third place match.

Yannarelly and Hanes moved through the subsectional with wins over Menomonie and River Falls at No. 3 doubles before losing to Zach Foster and Aaron Koerten of Stevens Point, 6-1, 6-1 in Thursday's semifinal round. They were then beaten by Sam Gritzmacher and Mitchell Schuster of Wausau East, 6-1, 2-6, 6-3, to finish fourth.

Linhares advanced to Thursday's sectional with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Max Docksey of Chippewa Falls before losing to Will Peck of Stevens Point, 6-2, 4-6, 6-0.

The Raider No. 1 doubles team of Josh Szyman and Eric Kromer lost a close match to Sam Lindsay and Johan Mellinius of Menomonie, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, at Tuesday's subsectional.

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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