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Prep tennis: Easy going for WHS; At home, Patriots sweep West Iron County

Westwood’s Emily Nelson serves during a No. 2 doubles match against West Iron County Tuesday at Westwood. Partner Avery Mariuzza is in the foreground. (Journal photo by Ryan Stieg)

ISHPEMING — For the last few years, the Westwood and West Iron County girls tennis programs have been the top teams in Division 2 with the Patriots edging the Wykons for the past three U.P. Championships.

However, Tuesday’s competition didn’t come down to the final match like it typically does when the two teams tangle with each other. Instead, the Patriots swept all eight matches for a 8-0 victory.

“I think we had a lot of competitive matches,” Westwood head coach Sarah Massie said. “Our 3 singles just got done, so they played for almost two hours. Our 2 doubles want to three sets and both 1 and 2 singles had some battles here and there. I don’t think their scores reflected how close the matches were necessarily.

Massie also thinks her team has made quite a bit of progress since last week when the Patriots went 1-1 in a three-team meet with Negaunee and Menominee.

“I think we’re definitely getting more comfortable, especially the girls that have been playing together or playing in their spots,” she said. “They look like they feel like they belong in their positions where before, they were still getting the jitters out and adjusting. Just different shots that they hit, you can tell that they’re getting that experience that comes with the season.”

In singles action, the Patriots’ Jenna Wealton, Jillian Koski, Natalie Blanck and Mallory Leece all won their respective matches in two sets with Wealton having the most competitive one. WIC’s Livea Mazurek forced a tiebreaker in the first set before Wealton prevailed 7-6. Wealton then took the second set 6-2.

Over on the doubles side, Westwood took three of the matches in two sets, but had a fight on its hands at the number two spot. The Patriots tandem of Avery Mariuzza and Emily Nelson won the first set 6-0, but the Wykons’ Kat Hemeleski and Aubrey Bice rallied to take the second 6-4. Mariuzza and Nelson eventually came out on top though, winning the deciding set 6-3.

Even though the day didn’t go the way he’d hoped, WIC head coach Joe Serbentas found some positives in how his team performed.

“Overall, being on the road and the bus trip and all that, I think we got off to a little bit of a slow start,” he said. “But then when the girls settled in, some of the sets became tighter in the second sets. Our 1 singles started off in a deficit, 1-4, and pushed a tiebreaker in that first set. So I was pretty happy about that. Then the second set, at 2 singles, was 7-5, so it just took us to get the bus legs off and get the nerves out. They started to settle in and play, especially the singles. The 2 doubles extended it to three sets, so that was big for them. But overall, in the doubles, they did a pretty good number on us when you look at those scores. But that’s where we have the most inexperience. We’ve got a lot of young girls in the low doubles. A lot of sophomores and first-year players. So that makes it tough when you’re on the road and you’re playing a good team like Westwood.”

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

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