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Exacting some revenge: Negaunee takes final 2 matches to ease past Westwood in girls tennis meet

Westwood's Madi Koski returns a shot from Negaunee's Lilly Nelson during their No. 1 singles match at a high school girls tennis meet held Wednesday at the Patriots' courts in Ishpeming. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

ISHPEMING — Over the past few years, the Negaunee and Westwood girls tennis teams have become the dominant programs in the Upper Peninsula.

The Miners have won the last five U.P. Division 1 titles, while the Patriots have claimed four of the last five Division 2 championships, sharing it in 2016 with Munising.

Not surprisingly, Wednesday’s battle between the Negaunee and Westwood was a tight one that came down to the two matches that were the last ones to finish.

In the end, the Miners’ tandem of Katelyn Lammi and Morgan Carlson won at No. 1 doubles to put Negaunee up by one, and then at No. 1 singles, Lilly Nelson outlasted Westwood’s Madi Koski in a close three-set match to give the Miners a 5-3 win in the meet.

“It was a good day of matches,” Negaunee head coach Kyle Saari said. “We had a hard-fought match with them (the Patriots) early on to start the season where we had got beat 3-5 and there were a couple that we felt were kind of on edge that maybe we could push through, maybe not. Just kind of see what happens.

Negaunee's Lilly Nelson serves during the No. 1 singles match against Westwood's Madi Koski at a high school girls tennis meet held Wednesday at the Patriots' courts in Ishpeming. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

“We’d started a meet last week, that triangular with Westwood and Marquette that ended up being rained out, and we had some success early on before the rain kind of came through. Our goal was to kind of carry that through and carry that into today.”

Westwood head coach Sarah Massie wasn’t surprised that her team got a good fight from the Miners as the two squads have shown that they’re nearly equal.

“Those last two matches were very competitive, which is what you expect,” she said. “It seems like between us and Negaunee, it’s anybody’s match on any given day according to what they’ve shown us so far.”

No. 1 doubles went back-and-forth, with the Patriots’ Karlie Patron and Katelyn Anttila winning the first set 7-5, but Lammi and Carlson bouncing back to take the next set 6-0 before winning a grueling 7-6 third set.

Meanwhile, as the doubles match was wrapping up, Nelson and Koski went into their third set. Koski took the first set 7-5, but Nelson battled back to win the second 6-3 and finished off the third with a 10-5 under special scoring to finish the win.

“Speaking for Lilly, she changed up the way she played a little bit today compared to early in the year,” Saari said. “You could tell that her confidence began to grow more and more as the match went on.

“When she strung two games together in the second set, she really didn’t look back. I think she kind of hit a second wind there and was able to push through into the tiebreaker as well. She stayed mentally tough and extremely patient, which is what you want at any flight.

“That No. 1 doubles match, Morgan and Katelyn, they just continue to get better. They had a really solid year at No. 3 doubles for us last year and they knew that they’d naturally going to have to make that jump. They’ve done so seamlessly so far.

“Their styles contrast each other pretty well. Morgan is pretty solid at the baseline and Katelyn does most of her work at the net. They had a little slow spot in the third set, but they never get rattled and they just keep fighting point by point.”

Also in singles, Westwood’s Tessa Leece won at No. 2, 6-1, 6-2, over Jillian Skewis, while Negaunee’s Lexi Mason topped Jillian Koski 6-2, 6-1 at No. 3 and teammate Annika Tervo defeated Jenna Wealton 6-4, 6-1 at No. 4. The teams split the doubles matches.

“Tessa had a great win at No. 2 singles and we actually played Negaunee last week, but we got rained out and the match never finished,” Massie said. “She struggled a little more last week and today, she really came out and figured her game out and got it done.

“We’re getting there. I think every flight after meets, they come to me with ‘I want to work on this or work on that’ and that’s good, especially when you have meets that are this close and you know that you’re going to see these teams at conference and the U.P.’s.

“We’re getting there and we’re playing well, but we always have things to improve on and work better. Days like today is when you really test where your strengths are and your weaknesses are.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.