For a short time Friday afternoon, the biggest and loudest cheers for Marshfield’s Tanner Hayes and Zach Ott were coming from an unlikely source.
The members of the Stevens Point Area Senior High boys tennis team celebrated every point the Tigers’ tandem earned against Wausau East’s Brady Becker and Jake Klug in their eventual 6-4, 5-7, 11-9 win in the No. 2 doubles championship match at the Wisconsin Valley Conference meet. Hayes and Ott rallied from a 6-2 deficit in the tiebreaker
“It was definitely a first. I’ve never seen SPASH cheer for us before,” said Hayes.
That result, coupled with SPASH’s Connor Cook and M.J. DeBot finishing third at No. 2 singles, allowed the Panthers to edge the Lumberjacks by one point for the conference title. SPASH entered the day with a six-point lead after the conference dual season, and finished with 84 points overall.
East won the WVC meet by five points over Marshfield, getting titles from Conrad Felten at No. 1 singles, and Garrett Richetto and Dakota Osborn at No. 3 doubles. The Lumberjacks also reached championship matches at four other flights — No. 2 and No. 4 singles, and No. 1 and No. 2 doubles.
Ben Rodenkirch had SPASH’s lone title at No. 2 singles, but the Panthers reached the finals in three other flights — No. 1 and No. 3 singles and No. 3 doubles.
“We knew we were assured of a at least a tie (for the WVC title),” said SPASH coach Gary Baierl said of the meet coming down to Cook/DeBot. “I got to give Wausau East credit, those kids played super hard, and they are always well-prepared and well-coached. We knew it was going to be a battle and that every match was going to be critical. For our No. 2 doubles team, who have played up and down all season, to be the one to earn it for us is just huge.”
Hayes and Ott were one of three champions for Marshfield as the Tigers finished second in the conference meet and third overall.
“They all knew they had to fight tough in that first match today, and unfortunately some just couldn’t win it,” Marshfield coach Tom Duncan said. “Our goal was to have everybody finish third or better and we were able to reach that.”
Felten beat Brady Luetschwager in straight sets, after falling to the conference’s top-seed in the dual season. Felten finished second in the WVC last year.
“I really have nothing to lose right now, it’s senior year,” Felten said. “I just came out here and played one of the best matches I’ve ever played.”
Wausau West’s No. 1 doubles team of Josh Zahl and Adam Wass won the title as the beat East’s Justin Strom and Gunthar Reising in straight sets. Zach and Wass are in their first season as a doubles team and posted a 4-1 mark in the dual season and entered the top seed for the meet.
“We always stayed focused and tried our best the whole (season),” said Wass, a senior. “We didn’t ever give up or think that we couldn’t win.”