Nailbiter with East ends huge Merrill tennis run

The Bluejay tennis team built its season start to an incredible 13-2, pushing their win streak to 9-0 with a 5-2 triumph over Wausau West on Tuesday and a 7-0 drubbing of Wisconsin Rapids on Thursday.
But the girls literally met their match the next day at Wausau East. The two teams were the final unbeatens in the Valley at 3-0 and the teams were tied 3-3 until a marathon 2-1/2 hour match finally gave the Lumberjacks a 4-3 win.
“We were ‘Oh, so close’ to winning that meet,” MHS coach Jennifer Heitz said. “We just needed someone to win one more match.
“Overall, I am happy, though, because by keeping the score close, we are only 4 points behind them in the conference standings. We can still catch them in the conference tournament (on Sept. 30).”
Olivia Heitz knocked off Lindsay Viegut, previously undefeated in the WVC, by a 6-2, 6-1 score, and Elizabeth Smith (6-0, 6-4) and Hannah Ollhoff (1-6, 6-1, 6-3) stayed unbeaten in the Valley. Kristen Verdoorn lost her first match of the year-after a 15-0 start-by a 6-3, 6-3 tally.
In doubles, Ellen Donner/Marissa Wilde (6-1, 6-4), Dani Teske/Aly Brandvold (6-2, 7-5) and Sarah Altman/Marissa Bartz (6-1, 6-3) all were defeated.
“Hannah lost the first set, and then won the next two sets for a great comeback!” Heitz said. “Kristen played a girl who was like a backboard, returning everything Kristen hit to her. I think it was frustrating for Kristen, because she is normally a very patient player. I do give credit to her opponent, though, who made very few errors in their 2 1/2 hour match.
“Our doubles teams didn’t fare so well, but played tough. Aly Brandvold turned her ankle in the second set, which was tough for her and Dani, because they had been ahead in the second set.”
Plundering the Raiders
Rapids managed just one set in seven matches in Thursday’s meet in Merrill.
“Obviously, we went out there and played extremely well,” Heitz said. “We expected a different line-up from them and I had talked to each of the girls about who they would face. I think they switched it up to try to win a couple of matches, but our girls adjusted really well.”
Heitz (6-2, 6-2) Smith (6-2, 6-0), Ollhoff (6-2, 6-2) and Verdoorn (6-0, 6-3) all swept their singles foes, as did Brandvold/Teske (6-3, 6-1) and Altman/Bartz (6-1, 6-1). Donner/Wilde pulled out a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 comeback.
Vengeance on the Warriors
Merrill took down three singles and two doubles matches to top Wausau West.
“We knew we would have a great match last Tuesday, even though we had lost twice to West last season,” Heitz said.
Smith (6-1, 6-4) gave the first WVC loss to Ashley Wood. Ollhoff (6-1, 7-5) and Verdoorn (6-1, 6-1) also prevailed in singles, and Teske/Brandvold (6-3, 6-2) and Bartz/Altman (6-2, 6-2) did it in doubles. Heitz lost a 0-6, 6-2, 7-5 match, while Donner/Wilde were defeated 6-2, 6-1.
“At #1 singles, Olivia Heitz’ match lasted nearly 3 hours, and she and Llora (Waldman) battled it out, point-for-point, with great rallies that sometimes involved 30-40 hits,” Heitz said. “It was a tough loss for her, but both of the young ladies played great tennis, and they gave 120% effort all the time.
“Laura remains undefeated in the valley, while Olivia suffered her only loss. There were many spectators at West who watched the match who found they couldn’t leave and applauded their high level of play.
“Hannah Ollhoff came back from being down 5-1 in the second set to win 6 straight games, and close out the match. We also had solid performances from #2 and #3 doubles in straight set victories.”

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