By Ryan Stieg
Special for Second Half
NEGAUNEE – The last 12 months have been a roller coaster ride for the Negaunee girls tennis team.
Last fall, the Miners' dynasty in the Upper Peninsula came to an end at the hands of Marquette after collecting five straight Division 1 titles. Then, like every other tennis team in the state, Negaunee wondered if it would even get a chance at reclaiming its championship thanks to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, on Monday, everything fell into place and the Miners climbed back on top of the U.P. with another D1 championship. Negaunee won the Final with 21 points and took five of the eight flight championship matches, leading to a very pleased head coach Kyle Saari.
"I think we're most happy for the girls above anything else," Saari said. "It was a group that went through last year, and they were hungry. But I think it became a learning experience for many of them, and it's a close-knit senior group that I think also made sure to kind of take the juniors underneath their wing too.
"This group, they overcame a lot in spite of the COVID situation, and then they've had a lot thrown at them throughout the course of the year too. You're going to get everybody's best shot. As the year goes on, the more you win, the bigger the target gets. It was nice that they were able to respond on the last day."
Lexi Mason (No. 3) and Annika Tervo (No. 4) gave the Miners two singles wins, and Negaunee also took three of the four doubles finals. Saari praised Mason, who finished off an impressive undefeated season, along with his No. 1 doubles team.
"Lexi ended up finishing the season off 19-0, and it's a really quiet 19-0," Saari said. "And it shouldn't be because she truly just lets her game kind of talk for her. She doesn't say much; she's quiet. So I'm tremendously proud of her and the effort she put forth.
“The other unique one is Morgan Carlson and Katelyn Lammi at one doubles. They went through all three of their years undefeated as a doubles team. They're good friends, and they're both good athletes. For them to end their careers 19-0 this year too, it's a unique mark to hit."
Menominee finished second with 14 points at what was supposed to be a seven-team meet, but Escanaba didn't compete. Jenna Nolde (No. 1 singles) and Josie Hofer (No. 2) provided the Maroons' two individual championships.
"I'm proud of my girls," Menominee head coach Nikki Mathieu said. "My one and two singles, they busted their butts this year and they did awesome. I'm proud of them. They're great."
Westwood, which moved up a division after notching four straight Division 2 titles, was third with 10 points. Its lone championship came at No. 4 doubles.
Marquette (eight points), Gladstone (one) and Kingsford rounded out the standings.
PHOTOS: Negaunee’s Lexi Mason returns a volley during the No. 3 singles championship match Monday. (Middle) Menominee’s Josie Hofer serves during her title-clinching win at No. 2 singles. (Photos by Ryan Stieg.)
Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.
Below is this week's segment – Tennis Spin - Listen
Today’s "You Make the Call" takes us to the tennis court.
We’re in the middle of a volley when I hit a shot with a ton of spin on it. It goes over the net, bounces and then spins back over the net towards me, without being hit by my opponent.
What’s the call?
My opponent never hit the ball, so I win the point. The same rule applies if it’s wind, not spin, blowing the ball back over the net.
My opponent could have returned my shot, even if they had to reach over the net to do so, as long as they didn’t touch the net while returning. If my opponent hits the net in the process of returning my shot, it’s also my point.
Oct. 10: Blocked Kick - Listen
Oct. 3: Volleyball Double & Lift - Listen
Sept. 26: Registration Process - Listen
Sept. 20: Animal Interference - Listen
Sept. 13: Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In - Listen
Sept. 6: Volleyball Jewelry - Listen
Aug. 30: Football Rules Similarities - Listen
Aug. 23: Football Rules Differences - Listen