Hudson Raiders sectional champs

The Hudson girls’ tennis team poses with the championship plaque after winning the Division 1 Sectional in Eau Claire Wednesday, Oct. 6 to qualify for the WIAA State Team Tournament Oct. 22-23 in Madison. In addition, five Raiders qualified for the state individual tournament Oct. 14-16. Submitted photo

After two close losses to Eau Claire Memorial in dual matches during the regular season, the Hudson girls’ tennis team knew they had a shot to overtake the Old Abes in the postseason. And that’s exactly what they did at the WIAA Division 1 sectional Wednesday, Oct. 6, in Eau Claire.

Hudson had sectional champions at four flights and took second at two others to finish eight points ahead of the Big Rivers Conference champion Old Abes to qualify for the state team tournament for the second straight season.

“What a thrilling day for Hudson girls tennis,” Raider coach John Dahl said. “I could not be prouder of this bunch. They showed up with a drive for sectionals and once they got on a roll, there was no stopping them.”

The Raiders qualified for team state during the COVID shortened 2020 season when Eau Claire Memorial didn’t field a team due to the pandemic. Dahl said that made Wednesday’s sectional triumph over the Old Abes, who have won 12 straight BRC titles, even more special.

“To finally get over that Memorial hurdle was very satisfying,” he said. “To sit back and watch the excitement of the girls is something I won't forget.”

Dahl said the Raiders set themselves up nicely by getting all seven flights through from Monday’s subsectional round in Menomonie. Then when all seven won their first round flights at Wednesday’s sectional, they just got better from there.

Hudson’s sectional championships came from Claire Keech at No. 3 singles, Ava Wilber at No. 4 singles, Jordan Yacoub and Bailey Finch at No. 2 doubles, and Jenna Simmons and Maya Youssef at No. 3 doubles.

“Maya stepped in for Nicole Hockin, who was sick Wednesday, and did a phenomenal job,” Dahl said about Youssef.

Keech and the doubles team of Simmons and Youssef both defeated Eau Claire Memorial opponents in the finals to help widen the gap between the Raiders and Old Abes in the point standings.

Hudson’s second place finishes came from Grace Diedrich at No. 2 singles and Kira Young and Grace Lewis at No. 1 doubles, while the Raiders’ top singles player– Lily Holmberg– placed third.

In addition to capturing the team sectional title, five Raiders– Holmberg at No. 1 singles, Young and Lewis at No. 1 doubles, and Yacoub and Finch at No. 2 doubles– also qualified for the WIAA Individual State Tournament Oct. 14-16 in Madison. The state team tournament is the following weekend, Oct. 22-23 at UW-Madison’s Nielsen Tennis Stadium.

“This is an extraordinary team this season,” Dahl said. “We have 16 players all making each other better in practice everyday. They are all part of this. Everyone is excited for the next two weekends in Madison.”

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