Esky looks for holes in Kingsford’s Armor

KINGSFORD- Heading into the Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals, Kingsford is the clear favorite but that doesn’t mean things can’t change.

“We’re clearly not going to be favored but I think we can have an impact on the results if some of our flights play up to their standards,” said Escanaba head coach Denny Lueneberg. “Kingsford and Negaunee are the favorites and in our dual matches that was evident.”

Rankings aside, Lueneberg believes his team, especially the doubles, can shake up the expectations at the finals.

“Our one, two and three doubles really have the best shot of all the flights,” Lueneberg said. “Our first three doubles have been playing some good tennis.”

Though the Eskymos are young on paper they do return a pair of doubles finalists from a year ago.

Olivia Berquist and Shelby Gregoire made it to the finals at No. 4 doubles last year, coming up short against Negaunee. This year they hope to make it back in the No.1 doubles spot.

“They lost in the three sets to the Kingsford team in the finals of the conference which was a nice tournament for them because they have been beaten handily by them throughout the year,” Lueneberg said. “They really showed that they can play with them now.”

Escanaba’s No. 3 doubles team of Emily LaFave and Olivia LaForest finished first in the conference meet, beating Kingsford 7-5, 7-5.

Lueneberg said Johanna Snowden at No. 1 singles could make an impact after finishing third in the conference meet.

“Johanna is playing at No. 1 singles and she’s doing a nice job, she plays hard and she’s up to the challenge,” he said. “She plays the top seeded players hard so she’s had a good year.”

Gladstone looks to give Kingsford a run at No. 2 singles with Lauren Parrett, who took second at the conference meet to Janay Walters of Kingsford in three sets. Bridget Becker also took second at No. 3 singles, losing in two sets to Santina Bianco.

With only three seniors, Escanaba is a young team but Lueneberg said it’s more about the mentality heading into the match.

“It’s a new day, you just don’t know what’s going to happen everyday,” he said. A lot of this is about your mental approach, how you’re going to handle the adversity in any sporting event. I’m just hoping they’re up to it. We’ve just got to get their heads right so they go out there and enjoy what they’re doing.”