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Claire Helling reaches to return a shot at the net as her doubles partner Bree Passe backs her up in the Wildcat tennis team's 4-3 loss to Woodbury Saturday at the high school courts. Helling and Passe won a hard-fourth 3-6, 7-5 (10-6) win at No. 3 doubles. Bob Burrows photo

Netters wrap up busy first week

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sports River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The Wildcat girls' tennis team had a busy first week of action with three tournaments in four days, highlighted by a rain-shortened strong performance at the Osceola Invitational last Wednesday.

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A day earlier, the Wildcats were 1-3 at the Eau Claire Memorial Round Robin Tournament and on Saturday they were 1-2 at their own River Falls Quad.

Head coach David Markson said there was plenty of bright spots in the first week of the season, and said the biggest challenge so far has been trying to figure out who will play where.

"Maybe the girls will sort themselves out in practice, but with so many girls being evenly matched, I have a feeling they'll be taking turns beating each other as they vie for varsity spots," he said. "That will hopefully make for improved tennis, but tough coaching decisions."

The Wildcats used four different players at No. 1 singles in an expanded dual format (five singles, four doubles) at Eau Claire last Tuesday with their lone victory an 8-1 victory over Bigfoot/Williams Bay.

In singles play, Elizabeth Chatt posted a 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 2, Jackie Nelson won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 3, Andrea Osberghaus won 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4, and Kristen Finstad won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5.

The Cats swept the doubles competition, with Alix Ambur and Sandra Meyer winning 7-6, 7-5 at the No. 1 position, Heidi Van Dell and Caitlin McLeavey winning 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2, and Roxie Fusilier and Mariah Kaiser posting a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 3.

The Cats were swept, 9-0, by both Eau Claire schools and dropped an 8-1 decision to Hudson with Sam Langer winning 7-6, 2-6 (10-4) at No. 4 singles.

Competing against players from Osceola and Baron at Osceola Wednesday, the Cats were the class of the field, winning all five of their matches that were able to be completed before the rains came.

Chatt won 6-1, 6-2 at No. 2 singles, Langer won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3 and Osberghaus won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 4 while in doubles play, Van Dell and McLeavey won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2 and Kaiser and Fusilier won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3.

Saturday at their own River Falls Quad, the Wildcats eked out a 4-3 win over Chisago Lakes and dropped an equally close 4-3 decision to Woodbury before falling to Hudson, 7-0.

"Our lineup experimentation continued as each girls got to play in two of the three matches," Markson noted.

The Cats picked up their second victory of the season in their first match of the day against Chisago Lakes, keyed by a sweep of the doubles competition and a quick 6-0, 6-2 win by Lager at No. 3 singles.

"The other three singles matches were all close and could have resulted in a sweep had a few points gone differently," Markson said.

Van Dell and Helling won 6-3, 6-0 at No, 1 doubles, Wolf and Ella Bump won 6-0, 6-1 at No. 2 and Fusilier and Kaiser won 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3.

Against Woodbury, Finstad rolled to a 6-1, 6-1 decision at No. 4 singles while Wolf and Bump had to work hard for a 3-6, 6-4 (13-11) win at No. 2 doubles and Passe and Helling won a 3-6, 7-5 (10-6) battle at the No. 3 spot.

Despite not winning a match against Hudson, Markson said he felt the Cats played well and will be more competitive when the two teams meet again. The Cats lost a pair of super-tiebreakers Saturday, Van Dell and Helling 9-11 at No. 2 doubles and Kaiser and Fusilier, 10-12, at No. 3.

"The doubles, especially, were very competitive, and when the two schools meet again in a few weeks in conference play, a stronger lineup from the Wildcats may be able to turn the tables on their Hudson rivals," he said.

The Cats will open up Big Rivers Conference play Thursday at home at 1 p.m. against Eau Claire North.

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