Lincoln tennis coach Tom Krueger is happy — and understandably so.
All nine of his players advance on the championship side of their respective flights, giving the Patriots (510) a 39-point lead over Rapid City Stevens (471) entering the final day of competition at the state tennis tournament in Rapid City.
“Any time you get into the last day with everybody in every flight, that’s enormous,” he said via phone Friday night. “It’s huge to have everybody playing still and we’re all the way out to the finals in doubles. So, that’s big. There’s a lot of points for doubles.”
Though Lincoln is in a good spot in the standings, it does have a pair of crucial championship doubles matches against Rapid City Stevens. In Flight 2, it’s Ava Leonard and Johana Brower (LHS) vs. Halie Vanderwerff and Peyton Forney. In Flight 3, Emily Whitney and Brooke Lovrien face off against Ingrid Anderson and Jaden Elliott.
The teams split during the regular season, with Anderson/Elliott’s only doubles loss coming to Whitney/Lovrien and vice versa. Leonard/Brower also finished the season with just one doubles loss.
“The Stevens doubles matches are going to be tough matches,” Krueger said. “We’re in a dead-heat with both of those teams, so those are going to be key teams.”
In Flight 2 singles, Lincoln’s Meredith Benson will face Madison’s Ella Graham. It will be the first meeting between the two as Graham was playing first flight singles when the Bulldogs and Patriots met on Aug. 25.
FIRST FLIGHT UPSET
Madison’s Eleonore Valente became the first 2-seed to fall Friday, losing to Watertown’s Allie VanDerWeide 5-7, 6-2, 10-7. VanDerWeide advances to face Stevens’ Grace Goble in the semifinals, while Valente was relegated to the fifth-place semifinals, where she was eliminated from the tournament by St. Thomas More’s Meghan Fenske by default.
“If Sidney doesn’t bring her best, she’s going to have a really tough time beating her,” Krueger said. “She just needs to focus on keeping her emotions in check and just strategically figuring out what she needs to do to wear Danielle down.”
CZARNECKI FACES STIFF TEST IN FLIGHT 2 SEMIS
In Flight 2 singles, No. 1 Sami Czarnecki will have to defeat 5-seed Grace Wittenberg of St. Thomas More in the semifinals if she wants the chance to defend her state title.
As was the case for Sebata in Flight 1, top-seeded Sami Czarnecki was granted no reward by the committee for going undefeated. In order to defend her Flight 2 singles title, she’ll have to defeat Grace Wittenberg, who was seeded fifth despite going 20-4 on the year (three losses to Sam Czarnecki, other was to Meredith Benson of Lincoln).
“Grace, to me, is arguably the third best player,” O’Gorman coach Don Barnes said in a phone interview Thursday night. “Benson at Lincoln and Wittenberg from St. Thomas More should have been the two and three seeds, in my opinion, and Sami should have been playing somebody else, but it didn’t happen.”
Benson, who went 24-3 on the year, was seeded third. Graham, who was first flight singles when Madison faced St. Thomas More and Lincoln, finished 12-0 in Flight 2, with her best win (based on record) coming against Audrey Moran of Watertown (20-4).
FINAL DAY SCHEDULE
9 a.m. — Championship semifinals
10:15 a.m. — Consolation finals; 5th and 6th place matches
11:15 a.m. — Championship finals; 3rd and 4th place matches
12:30 p.m. — Consolation finals/5th and 6th place
1:30 p.m. — Championship finals/3rd and 4th place
1, SF Lincoln, 510; 2, RC Stevens, 471; 3, SF O’Gorman, 410.5; 4, St. Thomas More, 403; 5, Watertown, 373; 6, Madison, 350; 7, Mitchell, 263.5; 8, Pierre T.F. Riggs, 256.5; 9, Harrisburg, 199.5; 10, Brandon Valley, 184
11, Yankton, 154; 12, Aberdeen Central, 135; 13, SF Washington, 132; 14, Aberdeen Roncalli, 125; 15, SF Roosevelt, 106; 16, Huron, 89; 17, RC Central, 69; 18, Spearfish, 60; 19, Brookings, 39; 20, Milbank Area, 35; 21, Vermillion, 4; 22, RC Christian, 0.