Rain created an extra challenge for the 2017 South Dakota High School Girls State Tennis Tournament in Sioux Falls from Thursday, October 5, through Saturday, October 7. According to Milbank Head Tennis Coach Jim Dahl, the rain Thursday and Friday forced play indoors. “The schedule had to be pushed forward with only 11 courts compared to the outdoor amount of 28.” Dahl added, “This tournament turned out to be a test of mental strength and physical conditioning.”
No Milbank players placed in the tournament, but three of the six advanced to the second day. “I was very pleased that the girls won three of the championship first round matches,” stated Dahl. First round winners were Halli Essington at No. 2 singles, Jodi DeVaal and Essington at No. 1 doubles, and Hattie Muellenbach and Jenna Johnson at No. 3 doubles. Essington also had a singles victory on Thursday and one on Friday.
Essington, a freshman, led the Lady Bulldogs for the second consecutive season. She tallied 25 of the team’s 43 total points. “That is especially impressive,” said Dahl. “She moved from No. 6 to No. 2 singles and No. 3 to No. 1 doubles this season. She had a nice singles tournament with easy wins over Roncalli and Harrisburg opponents that were closely contested during the regular season.”
DeVaal, the lone senior on the team, wrapped up her high school career by adding 10 points to the team total for Milbank. Muellenbach and Johnson also added four points each to the team total. “We have a very young team, with five of the six players coming back next season,” said Dahl. “Their improvement of core strength and competitive playing time over the off-season will be major factors in determining future success.” The team will host an awards potluck on Tuesday, October 17, at 6 p.m. in the school lunchroom.
Results from the state tournament:
Singles – (1.) Jodi DeVaal fell to Jane Ardry, Brookings, 10-4; lost to Genesis Reynolds, Rapid City Central, 8-2. (2.) Halli Essington defeated Mariah Brandner, Aberdeen Roncalli, 10-4; lost to Maddie Nguyen, Sioux Falls O’Gorman, 10-1; defeated Brooke Harmer, Harrisburg, 8-1; lost to Vanessa Wittenberg, St. Thomas More, 8-3. (3.) Rhianna Cantine fell to Abby Hanson, Aberdeen Roncalli, 10-2; lost to Julia Anderson, Rapid City Christian, 8-0. (4.) Rhianna Welberg fell to Mya Maxwell, Madison, 10-2; lost to Maddie Binder, Yankton, 8-1. (5.) Hattie Muellenbach fell to Peyton Tramp, Yankton, 10-3; lost to Hannah Hatch, Harrisburg, 8-3. (6.) Jenna Johnson fell to Rylie Nesheim, Sioux Falls Washington, 10-6; lost to Hallie Haskel, Aberdeen Roncalli, 8-4.
Doubles – (1.) DeVaal/Essington defeated Vermillion 10-1; lost to Mitchell 10-2; defeated Rapid City Central 8-0; fell to Watertown 8-4. (2.) Cantine/Welberg fell to Sioux Falls Roosevelt 10-1; dropped to St. Thomas More 8-2. (3.) Muellenbach/Johnson defeated Brookings 10-6; fell to Rapid City Stevens 10-3; lost to Brandon Valley 8-3.
Halli Essington at the S.D. High School State Tennis Tournament. Photo courtesy of South Dakota Public Broadcasting.