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Girls' tennis off to hot start

The Raider girls' tennis team had just four days of practice before its first competition of the season Saturday, Aug. 11, in Eau Claire. But you'd never know it by the results.

Hudson dropped just two matches all day while going 3-0 at the Eau Claire North Invitational, posting identical 6-1 victories over Altoona and Eau Claire Regis before sweeping Superior, 7-0.

First-year head coach John Dahl said he was very pleased with the team's efforts on a very hot day in Eau Claire, especially after such a short first week of practice.

"We have no choice but to hit the ground running," he said. "We're far from determining our final top 10 positions, but we got 13 girls into the mix Saturday."

Dahl said senior captains Annika Lewis, Kate Johnson and Rylee Swenke headline an experienced group of returning players. Lewis and Johnson, the defending Big Rivers Conference champions at No. 3 doubles, teamed up at the No. 1 doubles spot Saturday to go 3-0, including battling back from a 6-1, second-set loss against Altoona to win the tiebreaker, 10-7.

Hudson's doubles were perfect on the day with Swenke winning twice at No. 3-- alongside Kaleigh Sansone against Altoona and with Grace Giblin against Superior-- and Morgan Miller and Rose Giblin posting a win at No. 3 doubles against Eau Claire Regis.

Laura Douglas and Quinn Winkoski also went 3-0 at the No. 2 doubles spot

In singles play, Ella Diedrich, Lauren Stolzman and Sophia Jonas took turns manning the No. 1 through No. 3 positions with Diedrich and Jonas each going 3-0, including tiebreak wins against Eau Claire Regis. Jonas was the BRC champion at No. 4 doubles a year ago.

"Lauren, Ella, and Sophia all return with a lot of singles experience and will really push each other to get better this season," Dahl said.

Morgan Miller contributed a victory at No. 3 singles while Hilda Nuutinen, Grace Giblin and Rose Giblen all had wins at No. 4.

Dahl, who served as Hudson's boys' varsity assistant coach last spring under John Knutson, takes over the Raider girls' program this spring after Knutson stepped down to focus on developing the Hudson Tennis Association. Knutson will continue to coach the Raider boys in the spring, and Dahl said he will do his best to match Knutson's energy with the girls' team this spring.

"Everyone in town knows what a go-getter John is," Dahl said. "He's doing a fantastic job getting the HTA up and running. I'll do my best to match his level of enthusiasm but it won't be easy. I've been grateful for his willingness to help with any questions I have and did enjoy working with him during the boys' season last spring."

The Raiders competed at a quad in Chippewa Falls against the host Cardinals, Mondovi and Holmen Wednesday, Aug. 15, and will play in the two-day Green Bay Southwest Invitational Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 20-21, before opening the BRC portion of their schedule at home against Chippewa Falls Thursday, Aug. 23, at 4 p.m.

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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