NEGAUNEE - Of all their wins this season, the Negaunee girls tennis team's victory over Iron Mountain might've been the most impressive.
The Miners improved to 9-1-1 with a 5-3 win over the visiting Mountaineers, which entered the match with a 12-1 record.
"We knew they were solid. They're one of the top programs in the U.P.," NHS coach Kyle Saari said. "At the same time, our girls' focus was that they wanted to play their best heading into the conference meet."
Negaunee No. 1 singles player Abbi Kill returns a shot to Iron Mountain’s Laurie March at the Negaunee tennis courts on Thursday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
The Mid-Peninsula Conference meet is Wednesday in Iron Mountain, with the Upper Peninsula finals coming along about two weeks later.
"This was a nice win for our confidence," Saari said. "It shows what we're capable of."
The difference came at the No. 4 flights, the only flight the teams didn't split. It was a Negaunee sweep at singles and doubles, but only after a pair of third sets went the Miners' way.
Negaunee No. 4 singles player Dana DeBretto, a sophomore, prevailed over IM's Emily Chang, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1, while the No. 4 doubles tandem of sophomore Kassy Harsila and senior Sarah Paquette prevailed, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
"Of the three three-setters, we got all of them," Saari said. "We've been in many pressure situations this season, and probably 80 percent of them have come out on the right side for us.
"When you see those kinds of circumstances again and again, the mountain's not so high to climb."
The Miners' other three-set winner was No. 3 singles player Kayla Hakala in a 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Olivia Truscott.
NHS also got wins from No. 2 singles player Allison Carlson and the No. 1 doubles pair of Ashley Anderson and Mandi Grasso.
"I thought another key was at No. 1 doubles," Saari said. "They've been up and down and struggled at times, but now they've proven they belong with this win.
"They stayed focused all day. It showed that this was one they really wanted to get."
Iron Mountain coach Greg Stegall has been pleased with how his young team has played all season.
"We've got four or five freshmen, and all of them have winning records," he said. "It's a combination of them being natural athletes and also taking some private lessons during the summer."
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.