Intra-county battle: Negaunee Miners duke it out with Marquette Redettes, Westwood Patriots for Westwood Invitational girls tennis title

Marquette senior Ashlee Tripp follows through on a return during a No. 1 doubles match at the Westwood Invitational high school girls tennis meet held at the Patriots’ courts on Thursday afternoon. (Journal photo by Ryan Spitza)

ISHPEMING — A trio of Marquette County swept the top three places on a beautiful, 80-degree Thursday afternoon for the eight-team Westwood Invitational high school girls tennis tournament.

Negaunee won the team title with 53 points, followed by Marquette with 47, Westwood 46, West Iron County 44, Menominee 38, Kingsford 27, Gladstone 24 and Ironwood 9.

Unlike previous years, which featured a six-team, round-robin format, this year’s tournament was played in a “compass draw” format due to the two extra teams.

A compass draw divides all players into eight brackets, and each player plays three matches before being sent into the winner’s bracket or consolation bracket.

Once a player advanced to the winner’s bracket, semifinals and finals matches were played.

Negaunee sophomore Katelyn Lammi prepares to serve during a No. 3 doubles match at the Westwood Invitational high school girls tennis meet held at the Patriots' courts on Thursday afternoon. (Journal photo by Ryan Spitza)

The Miners earned championship victories at Nos. 3 and 4 singles as well as Nos. 2 and 3 doubles, while coming in as runner-up at No. 4 doubles.

Negaunee head coach Kyle Saari said the competition was intense.

“This was one of the most competitive eight-team tournaments that I think we’ve been a part of,” he said. “We come in and we want to play to the best of our ability and with an eight-team tournament the emphasis is on winning your first-round matches.

“Our depth came through for us again today and it was enough to get us a win.”

In the No. 3 singles final, the Miners’ Jillian Skewis defeated Menominee’s Jenna Nolde 6-3, 6-1, while Negaunee’s Lilly Nelson topped another Maroons netter, Josie Hofer, 6-1, 6-0 in the No. 4 finale.

One of the Miners’ wins in doubles came courtesy of Lexi Taavola and Shelby Yesney, who defeated WIC’s Emily Nelson and Anna Malmquist 6-4, 6-4 in the finale at No. 2.

No. 3 doubles featured the NHS team of Morgan Carlson and Katelyn Lammi topping Westwood’s Ellie Miller and Meghan Johnson in their title match, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.

The runner-up Redettes had one championship, that coming at No. 4 doubles with the team of Sydney McCarthy and Kaeleigh Talbacka overcoming Negaunee’s Shaylee Menhennick and Lexi Mason 6-3, 6-4 in their final.

Marquette’s Elyssa Olivier also advanced to the finals at No. 1 singles before falling to West Iron’s Katrina Serbentas 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the longest finals match of the day.

MSHS head coach Derek Sandstrom said he was pleased with his team’s effort after a lengthy week of competition.

“We saw some really good things and a few surprises as well,” he said. “We saw some things on the good side and some things we need to work on.

“This is our fourth day of tennis in a row and we have a lot of stuff to work on in practice next week, but I’m pleased with the effort. The girls’ attitudes are great and we just have to get used to focusing for more than one match in a day.”

For the host Patriots, Tessa Leece defeated Menominee’s Ely Wellner in No. 2 singles final, 6-4, 6-2; while the duo of Karlie Patron and Katelyn Anttila advanced to the final in No. 1 doubles, falling to WIC’s Eden Golliher and Tori Bociek, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.

Westwood head coach Chris Jackson called the tournament a competitive success.

“Going into the day, I think everybody was looking forward to the competition,” he said. “It’s early in the year and as this tournament stands, it looks like we’ve got six of the best teams in the U.P. in it. We’ve got a mix of Division 2 teams and a mix of Division 1 teams.

“It’s interesting because there were a lot of first-round matches that were really close.”

Jackson added that he believes the tournament helped everyone who participated improve.

“I think every team is leaving (today) feeling like they know what they need to do to get better,” he said. “It was a great day for tennis.”

Marquette travels to Iron Mountain for a dual meet at 11 a.m. EDT Monday, while Negaunee hosts Gwinn at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Westwood also hosts West Iron County at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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