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Powerful Negaunee Miners nearly sweep Mid-Peninsula Conference girls tennis tourney

NEGAUNEE — The heavily favored Negaunee Miners didn’t disappoint at the Mid-Peninsula Conference high school girls tennis tournament on Thursday that was held at the Miners courts and at Westwood High School.

Negaunee won seven of the eight championships to coast to a 46-point total, just two points short of a perfect score.

Westwood was a distant runner-up with 34 as the Miners and Patriots met in the finals of all eight flights with WHS winning at No. 2 doubles.

Iron Mountain was an even more distant third with 19 points as Gladstone was fourth with 16, Ishpeming fifth with 3 and Gwinn sixth with 2.

“We’re awfully proud of what these girls have accomplished in such a different season,” NHS head coach Kyle Saari said in an email after the Miners have also posted a perfect 15-0 dual-meet record. “They’ve done it the right way by staying incredibly consistent, and haven’t let any outside distractions get in their way.

“They’re fortunate every day we get to play, because nothing’s given, and they’ve made the most of it.”

Westwood head coach Sarah Massie echoed similar sentiments.

“(Thursday) turned out to be a beautiful day for tennis with some very competitive matches,” she said. “Our girls played well, making it in to all eight finals.

“Obviously, they were disappointed with the end result, but we had a lot of opportunity to battle through adversity…. Days like today make us better and help us prepare for (the MHSAA Upper Peninsula) Division 1 (Finals) next week.”

The Patriots one breakthough in the finals came off the rackets of the doubles tandem of seniors Avery Mariuzza and Emily Nelson, who won 6-3, 6-4 over the Miners’ Tianna Williams and Shayla Williams in No. 2 doubles.

“I was excited to see these two seniors (Mariuzza and Nelson) play the way they did,” Massie said. “They work so well together and were very deserving of this win.”

With one exception, Negaunee powered through all the other championship matches without dropping a set. That exception occurred at No. 3 singles when Lexi Mason came back for a 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Westwood’s Lindsay Williams in the finals.

“Lexi has been the model of consistency throughout her career and played a real strong match in the final,” Saari said.

Other Negaunee champions and Patriots runners-up were Lilly Nelson winning No. 1 singles over Jenna Wealton 6-2, 6-2; Jillian Skewis taking No. 2 singles over Jillian Koski 6-4, 6-2; Annika Tervo victorious at No. 4 singles over Mallory Leece 6-1, 6-2; Morgan Carlson and Katelyn Lammi winning No. 1 doubles over Ellie Miller and Natalie Prophet 6-0, 7-5; Madi Austin and Emma Miller taking No. 3 doubles over Allison Korpi and Claire Gilles 6-0, 6-2; and Daylyn Drew and Faith Mager emerging on top over Kalle Keranen and Natalie Blanck at No. 4 doubles 6-3, 6-3.

“Jillian (Skewis) trailed 1-4 early but she was a rock mentally (at No. 2 singles) and was never shook,” Saari said. “She rebounded and that’s the growth that’s important to see.

“Daylyn and Faith played their best match of the year so far and were really focused. They’ve battled a number of different opponents all year and they’ve done a nice job meeting every challenge.

“Lilly and our (No.) 1 doubles ground out two tough (championship) matches, too.”

Ishpeming’s top finish came at No. 4 doubles, where Addison Morton and Jenna Maki reached the semifinals, while for Gwinn it was at No. 3 singles, when Madalyn Grady posted an opening-round victory.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

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