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Negaunee girls back on top of MPC tennis ranks

September 25, 2012
By BURT ANGELI , Iron Mountain Daily News

KINGSFORD - Negaunee regained the Mid-Peninsula Conference girls tennis throne after a long absence and Westwood's Sarah Massie added another singles title Monday.

The Miners, with a pair of singles and doubles honors, earned MPC team honors for the first time since 2006. Negaunee usually fares well in boys tennis.

"I think they got sick of the boys success," said a smiling Negaunee coach Kyle Saari. "They wanted something for themselves as well.

Article Photos

Westwood’s Sarah Massie won a fourth Mid-Peninsula Conference girls tennis championship on?Monday in Iron Mountain. She repeated as No. 1 singles champion with a 6-3, 6-1 decision over Iron Mountain’s Laurie March. (Iron Mountain Daily News photo by Burt Angeli)

"It's a credit to them. They've got a year they can put on the banner."

Negaunee tallied 38 points to best Iron Mountain, 32; defending champion Westwood, 31; Ishpeming, 10, and Gwinn, 9.

"We needed a couple more wins early on or in a final, and we could have pulled this one off," Mountaineer coach Greg Stegall said. "I'm sure everyone is disappointed to be close but come up short."

Massie, in a rematch from last year's MPC No. 1 singles final, downed Iron Mountain's hard-hitting Laurie March 6-3, 6-1. Strong winds and cool temperatures affected play.

"One of the keys was handling the wind," Massie said. "It was pretty strong.

"I just tried to put pressure on her and basically play my game. She's improved a ton since the first time we played this season."

Massie's career shows two No. 1 singles medals along with Nos. 2 and 4. It was only four years ago that Massie got serious about tennis, taking to heart an appeal from science teacher and tennis coach Chris Jackson.

"In the eighth grade tennis meeting our science teacher said there were a lot of openings," Massie said.

Jackson points to Massie's hard work and desire to improve.

"She's where she's at because she constantly wants to get better," Jackson said. "I don't think people see what she does behind the scenes."

It was only last week that Massie and Jackson worked on her serve that proved baffling in the wind Monday.

"We've tried to diversify her game and try to give her opponents a number of different looks," Jackson said. "She has a number of different ways in which she can win and I think that's one of things that frustrates her opponents."

Iron Mountain freshman Katie Brule downed top-seeded Allison Carlson of Negaunee 6-3, 6-4 for the No. 2 singles tennis championship.

"She played solid tennis in extreme wind," said Stegall, noting Carlson defeated Brule in a recent match. "It was nice to see her step up and win decisively."

Negaunee grabbed Nos. 3 and 4 singles from Iron Mountain freshmen, with Kayla Hakala beating Olivia Truscott 6-1, 6-2 and Dana DeBretto clipping Emily Chang 6-1, 6-0.

Westwood's Kara Harrington-Alexis Forchini took No. 1 doubles by beating Iron Mountain's Sarah Pirkola-Katie Lusardi 6-4, 6-4. The Patriots also won No. 4 doubles with Shana Caligari-Rachel Anderson outlasting Negaunee's Sara Paquette-Kassy Harsila 6-3, 5-7, 11-9 in the final match of the day via a third-set tiebreaker.

"We knew it was a three-team race," Jackson said. "We needed some help when the seeds came out. We won in some areas where we felt we could win.

"We had four flights in the finals and we were happy with that."

Negaunee's Nos. 2 and 3 doubles proved to be a surprise by upending top-seeded foes. Amanda Washnock-Jessa Johnson edged Westwood's Taryn Moyle-Katie Rankinen 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 and Kylee Taavola-Jordyn LaFreniere dispatched Iron Mountain's Kate and Emily Bugni 6-2, 6-0.

"In any tournament situation you need some flights to come through that you don't expect," Saari said. "You can have a great season but you still need that to happen.

"Our number two doubles played extremely well and number three was another that we didn't necessarily expect."

Negaunee tacked on consolation honors or thirds from No. 1 singles Abbi Kill and No. 1 doubles Ashley Anderson-Mandi Grasso.

"We fought," Saari said of his MPC champs. "This is a nice breakthrough for them."



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