Marquette Senior High School, 3 doubles teams all finish as runners-up at Great Northern Conference girls tennis meet
ESCANABA — From the looks of it, it seemed Escanaba senior Sophia Derkos was in a hurry to take care of business at Escanaba High School on Wednesday.
Although that may not have been the case, she worked quickly in a 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Gladstone junior Tia Schone in the No. 1 singles final during the Great Northern Conference tennis meet.
Esky clinched the league title for the third consecutive time with 26 points, followed by Marquette with 16 and Gladstone and West Iron County with 12 apiece.
MSHS advanced to the finals at three doubles flights, but finished as runner-up in each.
Schone took a 2-1 lead when a shot by Derkos sailed long in the second set before the two-time GNC champion gained the upper hand during a cross breeze on this sunny and seasonably cool afternoon.
“She’s a good player,” Derkos said. “She put up a fight. I placed the ball where I wanted it to go and it worked. Winning the first set helped a lot. That boosted my energy. I think this is a good confidence builder for the U.P. (Division 1) Finals. I think this boosts my confidence even more.
“The wind made it challenging for both players. It was hard to serve.”
Schone, who missed a few meets due to an abdominal strain, appeared to settle in after the first set.
“I don’t play at that pace very often,” she said. “I just forgot the first set and looked ahead. This was my fourth meet back. I think it was a good day. The way she played didn’t help my cause. I had to re-adjust my serve. If I can clean that up, I have a pretty good shot in the Finals.”
Esky won six flights, including No. 1 doubles where seniors Natalie Williams and Sam Manninen rallied past Gladstone seniors Montgomery Pepin and Maggie Buckley 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“It was stressful, but a real good match,” Williams said. “We got our heads back in the game and started focusing more. It feels really good to win after such a stressful match. This is a real good boost going into the (MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1) Finals. Winning the GNCs is going to help.”
In No. 4 singles, Esky’s Maggie Martin blanked WIC’s Erin Kolbas 6-0, 6-0.
“We had a very good day at the GNC tournament,” Esky coach Chris Ogren said. “Maggie was able to win every set on her way to one of the more dominant championships that I’ve seen. Maggie stays patient and consistent no matter what the circumstances and that paid off today.
“Sophie was able to win two matches that were not particularly close on her way to clinch her position as the best player in the conference. She looked really solid today.
“Natalie and Sam made it to the final against Gladstone, a team that hadn’t played since before we started school. They’ve lost other sets, but have always found a way to battle back and win the match. They slowed down, cut down on some errors and began to dictate the pace of play.
“When setbacks happen, it’s nice to have two seniors at the top that don’t get rattled.”
Esky’s Sonya Maki and Molly Smale copped No. 2 doubles by defeating Marquette’s Natalie Deneau and Maija Parkkonen, 6-0, 6-2.
“It feels like I’ve said Sonya and Molly have played their best tennis four different times this year, but that was true today,” Ogren said. “They played six sets of tennis today and lost three total games. Even in the final against the top-seeded team, they played smart and controlled tennis.
“If they keep playing like this through next week, they can beat anyone they run into.”
Esky, which swept the doubles, added a victory at No. 3 where Val Royer and Sophie Wagner outlasted Marquette’s Laura Barsch and Aubree Blackburn, 7-5, 6-4.
“Maybe the biggest jump came from Val and Sophie,” Ogren said. “They lost the first set of the day before getting settled in and winning the next two sets 6-1, 6-1 (against Munising’s Emmy Crisp and Tessa Salo).
“They cruised through the semifinals to play top-seeded Marquette, a team they lost twice to this year. They fell behind again today 4-1 before they found their groove. They came back to win the first set and won the second.
“This team has two seniors and their experience is really showing over the past few matches.”
At No. 4, Carly Bowden and Danni Hughes prevailed over Marquette’s Mylee Muscoe and Eva Sjoholm 6-3, 6-4.
“Carly and Danni continued their terrific year by winning their championship today,” Ogren said. “They won their semifinal 6-0, 6-0 to get to a solid Marquette team in the final.
“They fell behind 3-2 in the first set, then rallied to take that one. The second set was tight as well, but they stayed focused and were able to close it out.”
In addition to its trio of runners-up, Marquette had another trio of third-place finishers, all in singles — Payton Bullock at No. 1, Lucy Stern at No. 2 and Eva Kentala at No. 4.
West Iron won two singles flights, including Sienna Stine’s 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-2 triumph over Gladstone’s Addie Trombley at No. 2.
“I wasn’t too happy about losing the tiebreaker,” Stine said. “I played with more confidence and got momentum after winning the second set. I’m pretty confident going into the (U.P. Division 2) Finals.”
Kaitlyn Smith also provided the Wykons with a title at No. 3 singles following a 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 victory over Menominee’s Anna Axtel.
The U.P. Finals take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Marquette Senior High School.
“Overall, it was a really solid day all around with good tennis being played everywhere,” Ogren said. “We’ll be back for our final test of the season in Marquette.”