The Lady Bulldog Tennis Team competed in the 2018 South Dakota State Tennis Tournament in Rapid City on October 3, 4, and 5. After rescheduling due to inclement weather, the team fought through three chilly days to bring home 15th place. Halli Essington also brought home the No. 1 singles consolation title.
“One of our main goals was to win as many first round championship matches as possible,” said MHS Coach Jim Dahl. “The players came through by winning six of nine!” Another team goal was to reach the Century mark in total points.
Match-ups for the first round: No.1 Halli Essington faced Jane Ni Struckman Johnson (Vermillion) 10-2 (10 pts); No. 4 Hattie Muellenbach defeated Bethany Engelhart (Hurley) 10-4 (7 pts); and No. 5 Jenna Johnson defeated Maci Skyles (Sioux Falls Washington) 10-0 (6 pts). The team amassed 23 points for the day.
On the second day in doubles play, the girls added more points toward the team’s goal. No. 1 Essington/Muellenbach defeated Rapid City Central, 10-8 (12 pts) No. 2 Rhianna Cantine/Rhianna Welberg defeated Brookings,10-8 (10 pts). No. 3 Johnson/Alexis Ninneman contributed another win by defeating Huron, 10-5 (8 pts).
The Lady Bulldogs then entered the second round championship bracket and came out on top to advance to the doubles second round consolation bracket. No.1 Essington/Muellenbach won by default against Spearfish (8 pts), and No. 3 Johnson/Ninneman defeated Brookings 8-0 (4 pts.).
In singles play, Essington, Muellenbach, and Johnson racked up more points for the team’s total. No. 1 Essington defeated Jane Ardry of Brookings, 8-0 (7 pts) No. 4 Muellenbach defeated Lauren Mandernach of Vermillion, 8-1 (4 pts), and No. 5 Johnson defeated Lily Brandt of Brookings, 8-1 (3 pts).
Last up for the day, was the Singles Consolation Round Quarters. No. 1 Essington won by a score of 9-8 to add another seven points to the team’s total. That pushed Milbank’s team total to 67 points for Thursday. Combined with Wednesday’s total of 23, the girls had accrued 90 points with only one day left.
The question remained, would the team reach their goal of 100 points?
On the final day and with only Halli’s consolation championship match left to play, (facing a tough No. 10-seeded Madison opponent against whom she had taken a 3-10 loss to earlier in the season) Coach Dahl commented, “I have learned from this team through the season, never to count them out.”
After encouragement from the team and fans, Essington pulled out a 10-8 win. She earned the final seven points to bolster the team’s 93. The Lady Bulldogs hit exactly 100 points!
According to Dahl, “This was the fifth time in the last seven seasons, the Lady Bulldogs have reached that mark. With all of the players returning next year, we will be looking to improve upon it. Hallie really had a great singles tournament. She won five of six matches. It’s the second time in her young career she has finished the season with a win – an especially difficult feat at the No. 1 position.”
Final point totals were: Essington 48, Muellenbach 21, Johnson 15, Ninneman 6, Cantine 5, and Welberg 5.
Essington earned the No.1 Singles Consolation Champion title and the honor to take the awards stand on the final day.
Closing remarks from Dahl, “I was very proud of our players and the way they represented their team, school and community on and off the court in Rapid City. Special thanks to the parents, siblings and grandparents that attended for their encouraging support of the team. I very much appreciate our alternate, Kayla Bury, for her willingness to sacrifice and attend even though knowing she would not play unless illness or injury would prevent another teammate from competing.”
The Lady Bulldogs close the year with an end-of-season potluck and awards ceremony in the school lunchroom at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, October 16.