MARQUETTE - Escanaba No. 1 singles player Codi Jenshak will have the opportunity today, to do what very few have done at her school.
Jenshak, a reigning all-state player will vye to become possibly only the third player in Escanaba High School history to win back-to-back U.P. Finals at the No. 1 singles flight.
Her chances are good.
Keith Shelton |?Daily Press
Escanaba’s No. 1 singles player, Codi Jenshak takes a swing on Sept. 11 against Gladstone’s Alison Austin. Jenshak will have an opportunity to repeat as U.P. Finals champion today at Marquette.
Jenshak's only two defeats this season have come to West Iron County's Kylee Erickson, most recently at the Great Northern Conference meet on Sept. 26. But Erickson will be playing in Division-2 today, leaving Sam Fleming of Kingsford as Jenshak's main competition. Jenshak has beaten Fleming all three times they have met this season.
"It should be Codi and Sam, but you can't overlook what Negaunee and Marquette have," said Escanaba coach Dennis Lueneburg. "You still have to play the games, but I think Codi and Sam are the favorites. Maybe we'll have a repeat of last year when Codi beat Sam for the title."
Lueneburg acknowledged that as a team Kingsford is the likely favorite in Division-1.
"Kingsford won the conference meet and they have a nice team over there. So does Marquette, Gladstone and Negaunee," he said. "In dual matches, we matched up pretty well but in tournaments, you need breaks from other teams, you have to pull some upsets, a lot has to fall in place.
"We do have a chance to make the finals in at least five flights, so that's basically what would make it successful for us."
The Eskymos have had strong doubles teams this year while the young singles flights haven't yet reached their full potential.
"We have a lot of spots that are still developing, so that hurts in tournament play, but it's an experience for the kids," said Lueneburg. "You don't want to lay blame on singles because they're doing their best, but you need a lot of depth to win, like we had last year."
Apart from Jenshak at No. 1 singles, the Eskymos are also very strong at No. 1 doubles. The team of Braedyn Bosilovatz and Cathryn Wood won their flight at the GNC meet over Gladstone's Bridget Becker and Nicolle Trudeau and a rematch could be a possibility, though Braves coach Rich Trombly cautioned there is little room for error.
"My No. 1 doubles team got off to a slow start (Monday against Menominee). They were down 5-2 in the first set before coming back to win 7-5. If they do that at the Finals, they'll be in trouble," he said. "I hope yesterday was just a bad day because we did not play well. We'll need to do way better at Finals because the competition is very tough."
Also getting to finals flights at GNC's for the Eskymos was Jalyn Dagenais and Zoe Berquist at No. 2 doubles, Audrey Wilson and Breanna Dault at No. 3 doubles and Olivia Berquist and Shelby Gregoire at No. 4 doubles. All three of those flights lost to their counterparts, though Dault and Wilson played a three-set match with Marquette's Taylor Rovin and Brianna Buhl.
The Braves have had developing flights this season as well, but Trombly said all have progressed. Especially looking strong as of late are Gladstone's No. 1 and No. 3 singles flights.
Alison Austin secured a victory at No.1 singles Monday over Menominee's Molly Jackson and seems to be coming into form at the right time.
"Alison has done a very nice job at No. 1 this season," said Trombly. "She's an excellent athlete and always stays level emotionally. She's never too far up or too far down. She makes the other person play their best in order to beat her.
"All the singles flights played really well (against Menominee) and they've made steady improvement."
Also playing hot at the right time is Lauren Parrett at No. 3 singles. Parrett made the finals at the GNC meet before bowing to Kingsford's Michelle Scheibe, but is coming off a victory Monday over Menominee's Brianna Chaltry.
"Lauren is really developing a nice game. She has an excellent serve that comes in handy a lot of times and helps to get her out of tough situations," said Trombly. "She still has a ways to go in developing shots, but she's a very nice player."
Though Gladstone and Escanaba each will be very competitive in certain individual flights, it is often the team with the most depth that often goes on to take the team trophy and that appears to be Kingsford.
The Flivvers had flights in five finals matches at the GNC meet.
"We won't have one easy match at the U.P. Finals," said Trombly. "They're all tough."