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Netters grab two sectional titles

Hudson's No. 1 doubles team of Taylor Owens, left, and Anna Wilgren, center, and No. 4 singles player Sophia Jonas, show off their championship medals after winning their respective flights at the WIAA Division 1 Girls Tennis Sectional in Wausau Wednesday, Oct. 4. Photo courtesy of John Knutson

Hudson's girls tennis team advanced five players to sectional play, came away with two flight championships and will send its top doubles team to state after the WIAA Division 1 sectional in Wausau last Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Senior captains Taylor Owens and Anna Wilgren qualified for this week's WIAA State Tournament in Madison by winning the sectional title at No. 1 doubles while freshman Sophia Jonas capped her rookie season by winning the No. 4 singles sectional title.

Owens and Wilgren, who were undefeated in Big Rivers Conference play this season, beat a pair of BRC opponents, including the duo from Eau Claire Memorial for the third time, to earn their berth at state.

After rolling past Superior at the subsectional two days earlier in Eau Claire, Owens and Wilgren shut out the team from Wausau West in the sectional quarterfinals before beating Eau Claire Memorial in straight sets in the semifinals for the third time this season.

"The Old Abes have had this unbeatable mystique about them for so long and it's been rare to win matches from them since I played against them 40 years ago in Durand," Hudson head coach John Knutson said about the Memorial program. "It's awesome to see our teams beating them on a more consistent basis. Owens and Wilgren are just mentally tougher than they are, and their tennis game hasn't reached its potential yet. Peaking as they head to Madison for the state tournament couldn't be any better. These two have led our team all year. They lead by example, and very impressively at that."

Owens and Wilgren had a tougher time against Menomonie in the sectional final. After winning the first set, 7-6, they needed a seven-point tiebreaker in the second set to clinch the sectional title.

Jonas needed two wins at Monday's subsectional to advance to the sectional round and did just that by sweeping her opponents from Superior and New Richmond in straight sets.

In sectional play Jonas defeated Leah Blaskowski of Wausau East in straight sets before beating another BRC foe-- Eau Claire Memorial's Natalie Harvey-- 6-2, 6-4 to capture the No. 4 singles title.

"Sophia had a tough match against Harvey from Memorial," Knutson noted. "They split during the season with each of them winning 6-1, 6-1 against the other. Today was closer. While Jonas won the first set easily, she was down 4-1 in the second set before flipping the momentum and running off five games in a row to win the second set. She's a fighter and we look for great things from Sophia in the years to come."

The Raiders No. 3 doubles team of Laura Douglas and Rylee Swenke rolled through subsectionals by beating teams from New Richmond and Menomonie in straight sets before finding tougher sledding in losses to Wausau East and Eau Claire Memorial to finish fourth at Wednesday's sectional.

Hudson assistant coach Kari Lewis said it was a great day for Raider tennis.

"Bringing five players to sectionals in three positions; No. 1 and No. 3 Doubles, along with No. 4 Singles; and then winning two of the three championships, that is indeed a pretty good day for the Hudson Raider tennis team," she said.

Owens and Wilgren will open state tournament play Thursday, Oct. 12 at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium on the campus of UW-Madison. State tournament play continues Friday, Oct. 13 through Saturday, Oct. 14.

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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