Merrill girls tip Tigers

The Bluejay tennis team averted a Valley disaster in Thursday’s heat when the girls traveled to Marshfield and pulled out a 4-3 victory.
A Valley title is one of the top goals for the talented Merrill team and they are still on the trail after working straight set victories in #2-#4 singles matches and at #3 doubles.
Merrill is off to a 13-3 start, but just 1-0 in the Valley before Tuesday’s Wausau East match (too late for this issue).
Liz Smith (6-1, 6-0), Hannah Ollhoff (6-1, 6-2), and Leah Johnson (6-0, 6-0) prevailed easily in singles, and the Karina Baacke/Jolene Ladewig duo won 6-1, 6-4.
“All of our girls played well,” MHS coach Jennifer Heitz said. “I had hoped for a solid win over Marshfield, and we squeaked this one out. But a win is a win.
“We really needed that to start off our conference play, and it won’t get any easier. The conference is going to be tight this year. There is a lot of talent spread throughout all of the teams.”
Marshfield managed to pull out both three-set matches, at #1 singles 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 over Olivia Heitz and 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (1) over the Marissa Bartz/Kelsey Pintens #2 team. The Kristen Verdoorn/Sarah Altman team lost 6-3, 6-0 at #1 doubles.
“Thursday was a sunny, hot and humid day, near 90 degrees at playing time in Marshfield,” Heitz said. “I was hoping to get everyone off the courts in straight sets. It’s tough to watch the girls compete in such a tight match, and then having our players have to lose after fighting that hard and for that long. (Olivia and Marshfield’s Megan Hayes) looked really tired by the end.
“Kelsey and Marissa are new doubles partners. They hadn’t played a match together yet, and they put up quite a battle. After dropping the first set, they figured out what they needed to do to win the second, and were ahead 5-2 in the last set before letting things get away from them. Hopefully they can figure out how to hang on to a lead and finish the match.
“Our doubles teams definitely have things we need to work on, and the teams need to gain confidence to hang tight in those close matches.”

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