AP NEWS

Prep girls tennis: While many young stars return, graduation will stir the pot in some area conferences

August 21, 2018

2017 PREVIEW CAPSULES | GIRLS TENNIS

PRESEASON RANKINGS

1, Madison West

2, Madison Edgewood

3, Madison Memorial

4, DeForest

5, Watertown Luther Prep

6, Monona Grove

7, Waunakee

8, Lake Mills

PRESEASON ALL-AREA

Abby Bremel, so., Madison West: Bremel finished third in last year’s state doubles tournament, teaming with the since-graduated Laura Nicholas. As a sophomore, she will join her twin sister and returning state qualifier in singles Maddi Bremel to make a young, dynamic duo for the Regents.

Meredith Conley, jr., Verona: Conley should be in line to be one of the best players in the Big Eight this year, and she returns after losing in the first round of the state tournament as a sophomore.

Baluck Deang, so., Madison Edgewood: Even as a freshman, Deang showed she has the potential to become one of the strongest players in the area after she won the conference tournament in singles. In the state tournament, she made it to quarterfinals as the No. 7-seeded player before losing to the eventual state champion.

Cecile Fuchs, jr., DeForest: As a sophomore, Cecile won a WIAA Division 1 sectional title and won two matches in the state tournament before falling in the round of 16. She could be the catalyst for a DeForest team that is a strong candidate to win the Badger North this year.

Samantha Fuchs, so., DeForest: Trailing only her older sister, Samantha finished as a sectional runner-up as a freshman last fall and will make the second half of a strong one-two punch at the top of the Norskies varsity. She lost in three sets in the second round of the state tournament, but is a strong candidate to advance even further this year.

Lauren Hope Bruemmer, so., Sun Prairie: Last year she was a strong No. 2 at the top of Sun Prairie’s roster, behind Latsami Sysouvanh, but Sysouvanh has graduated and Bruemmer has moved into the top spot. She lost in the conference final at No. 2 last fall, before reaching the round of 16 in the state tournament.

Hailey Munz, jr., Monona Grove: As a sophomore last season, Munz and her doubles partner, Amanda Newman, won the WIAA Division 1 state title, the first in school history. With Newman graduated, Munz will transition to singles and lead a junior-dominated Monona Grove lineup.

Grace Olson, jr., Madison Memorial: Olson won the Big Eight Conference tournament at No. 2 singles last year and made it to the second round of the state tournament before falling in two sets to the eventual fourth-place finisher. She’ll help lead the Spartans through the minefield that is the crowded and competitive Big Eight.

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS

BADGER NORTH

DeForest: Led by the Fuchs sisters, DeForest enters the year as the favorite to win the division. They won last year, going undefeated in dual meets within the conference, and the Fuchs sisters will be favorites to repeat as No. 1 and No. 2 singles champions in the conference tournament.

Sauk Prairie: The Eagles are returning most of their team from last season and should become a strong contender. They’ll be anchored by one of the best players in the Badger, freshman Quinlyn Mack. Katie Mack, Katie Yanke and Olivia Joyce will fill the singles rotation, and Camryn Ballweg and Bridget Fabian will pair up at No. 1 doubles.

Waunakee: Olivia Austria-Kemble returns after finishing as conference runner-up at No. 2 singles last year. It’s not , and she could either make the move up to No. 1 singles or match up with last year’s No. 3 singles entry Reece Hooker to make for a strong no. 1 doubles team. The program is also adding some quality freshman who could possibly contribute this season.

Beaver Dam: The addition of Beaver Dam to the Badger Conference last year has been a plus, as the Golden Beavers went 4-2 in dual meets. Morgan Nelson lost in a conference singles semifinal last year and will be a threat to challenge this year.

Reedsburg: New coach Rachel Eigner takes over an experienced roster that has seven seniors and three juniors at the top, highlighted by third-year varsity player Hayden Stovey, a junior. The program has grown quickly, from 25 last year to 40 members this year, providing depth and a lot of challengers to keep players competing in practice.

Baraboo: The Thunderbirds had a tough 2017, scoring only two points in the conference tournament. Veteran coach Karll Kruse said the Thunderbirds have improved experience and program numbers this fall, led by Shani King-Vieaux at No. 1 singles and Elena Holloway and Kim Jacome at No. 1 doubles.

Portage: The Warriors will be hurt by the loss of six players from the class of 2018, though an impressive 24 girls came out for the program this fall. Senior Ellie Vorpahl is expected to move from No. 1 doubles to No. 1 singles. They could be getting some outside help this year with an experienced foreign exchange student from France, Olga Proto.

BADGER SOUTH

Madison Edgewood: Last season, Edgewood fell just short of the overall Badger Conference title, falling one point short of DeForest in the conference meet. This year, lead by sophomore Baluck Deang (a top-eight player at Division 2 state), they’ll look to reclaim their spot at the top of the conference. Three of four singles players return.

Monona Grove: The Silver Eagles will have a tough time living up to their 2017 season, when they went undefeated in Badger South dual meets. But they’ll return some strong players to chase the goal. Hailey Munz, last year’s state doubles champion (with the graduated Amanda Newman) has shifted to No. 1 singles, and former No. 2 doubles player Jewell Lindwall, also a junior, now is at No. 2 singles.

Watertown: Jenna Koepp is a four-year varsity regular and made it to the third round at state in doubles before losing to Newman and Munz. She’ll have a new partner this year, leading a varsity that will have a few new faces.

Stoughton: With a strong lineup at doubles and some experience at singles, Stoughton figures to be an above-average team in the South. No. 1 doubles will be a strength, with last year’s top singles player, senior Lydia Brekken, switching to doubles to join Katie Halverson, past of last year’s No. 2 doubles pair.

Fort Atkinson: The Blackhawks look to replace their Nos. 1 and 2 singles players from last year, but return eight letterwinners including seniors Martina Walling and Jackie Jensen.

Oregon: Oregon struggled in the conference tournament last fall after going 3-4 in league matches. They’re hoping to break the .500 mark this season.

Monroe: Coach Matt Bordner returns about half the varsity squad from last year’s squad, which went 1-6 in dual matches. An improvement is expected, thanks to a solid mix of experience and fresh faces. The returning varsity lineup includes juniors Jensen Christensen, Emma Towne and Grace Tostrud.

Milton: In 2017, Milton finished in the bottom half of the Badger South, recording three points in the postseason tournament after going 2-5 in dual matches during the regular season. They won’t be expected to compete for the title but could improve and gain knowledge for future seasons.

BIG EIGHT

Madison West: Perennial challengers for the conference title, Madison West again is picked as the top choice by Big Eight coaches. The Bremel sisters will return as sophomores, trying and fend off challengers in one of the deepest conferences in the state.

Middleton: The Cardinals came close to winning the Big Eight last year, finishing five points behind Madison West. Only three starters were lost to graduation this year.

Madison Memorial: The team is returning seven letterwinners from a 2017 squad that finished third in the Big Eight, led by No. 2 singles champ Olson. It’ll be that experience, led by Anna Hubbard and Devika Kamath as returning state qualifiers in doubles, that should one of the biggest challengers to Madison West’s quest to repeat.

Verona: Coach Mark Happel returns to the Big Eight boasting eight starters from last year’s lineup. Conley will lead the team for the next two years before passing the torch to this year’s freshman varsity members, Els Queoff and Samantha Breitbach.

Sun Prairie: The Cardinals finished fourth in the conference last year, but are looking like they’ll take a step back after losing half of their starters. Among the returnees will be Bruemmer, Leah Hamilton and Kaia Feldman, who will provide a base of experience.

Janesville Parker: After roughing through a winless season in conference play last year, Parker will return eight of nine letterwinners and could see dividends pay off in 2018. Senior Cassie Hanly will play at No. 1 singles and freshman Annie Barns should make an immediate impact despite her young age.

Janesville Craig: The Cougars finished sixth in the Big Eight tournament and hope to leap into the top half of the conference this year.

Madison La Follette: Head coach Nan Perschon has been coaching the Lancers for 28 years. She enters 2018 with a very young team featuring multiple freshmen. In a stacked Big Eight, the athletic Claire Schmit will try to hold down the fort and provide a solid base for a team that will most likely experience some growing pains.

Madison East: The Purgolders were able to avoid the cellar in 2017 by earning a point in the postseason tournament, and their challenge this season will be to try and accomplish the feat once again. Senior Grace Rider, junior Amelia Hoffman, sophomore Naomi Monat and junior Sa’dee Decorah lead the returnees.

Beloit Memorial finished at the bottom of a tough and crowded conference tournament. With many of the powerhouses returning their top players and others gaining experience, it’ll be hard for the Purple Knights to improve drastically on last year’s record. Lydia Quade leads the team’s returnees.

CAPITOL

Lodi won the league title last year, sweeping all four singles flights and two of three doubles titles in the conference tournament. But graduation wiped out all those winning spots, creating an opening for another team to move to the top of the heap this fall.

Watertown Luther Prep earned conference runner-up honors last fall, led by No. 1 singles champ Alethia Schmidt, now a sophomore.

Lake Mills is off to a solid start, with a strong crew of returnees boosted by an unusually impressive crop of freshmen. Ashli Patrick and Sophia Thompson are the only returning seniors.

ROCK VALLEY

Jefferson senior Morgan Graf returns at No. 1 singles after going 1-1 in the WIAA Division 2 state tournament last fall, wrapping up a 19-7 season. Also back are seniors Allie Waugh, a second-team all-conference pick at doubles last fall, and second-team singles player Karyn Duddeck.

McFarland returns junior Michelle Butcher, a first-team all-conference pick last year.

Edgerton junior Alexis Samuelson and senior Maddie Laskowski earned first-team all-conference honors in doubles last year.

EVENTS TO WATCH

Thursday: Middleton at Madison West, Big Eight Conference dual meet. If someone will going to knock Madison West of their pedestal this year, Middleton is one of the favorites and will have the opportunity to make a statement early in the season. They’ll be hindered by having to go on the road, but this matchup could be an early indicator of how strong West’s grasp on the throne is.

Thurs., Aug. 30: Badger South dual, Madison Edgewood at Stoughton. If Stoughton is going to take the next step in competing for the top of the league title, the Vikings will need a strong showing against Edgewood.

Thurs., Aug. 30: Capitol Conference dual, Lodi at Watertown Luther Prep. Lodi has been strong in the Capitol over the last two seasons, but come into this season replacing their entire starting lineup after losing eight letterwinners. The early trip against the conference favorite will be an early indicator of what the expectations for Lodi should be.

Fri.-Sat., Sept. 7-8: Sweet 16 Invitational at Glendale Nicolet. Two of the area’s strongest teams, Madison Memorial and Madison West, will travel to one of the best long-running tournaments in the state. How the teams perform overall will give a better picture as to how the region compares to the rest of the state.

Sat., Sept. 15: Madison Memorial Invitational. Eight area teams will flock to Memorial in a late tournament that could shine some light on how the conference tournaments could unfold. Included in the tournament will be the hosts Memorial and Madison West, two of the favorites to take home the Badger Conference crown this year.

POSTSEASON CALENDAR

Badger Conference Tournament: Fri.-Sat., Sept. 21-22, Nielsen Tennis Stadium

Big Eight Conference: Tues. and Wed., Sept. 27-28, Nielsen Tennis Stadium

Capitol Conference: Sat., Sept. 22, at Watertown Luther Prep

Rock Valley Conference: Thurs., Sept. 20, at UW-Whitewater

WIAA subsectionals: Mon.-Tue., Oct. 1-2, various sites.

WIAA sectionals: Wed.-Thu., Oct. 3-4, various sites.

WIAA state individual tournament: Thu.-Sat., Oct. 11-13, Nielsen Tennis Stadium

WIAA team state tournament: Fri.,-Sat., Oct. 19-20, Nielsen Tennis Stadium

—Erik Helm

AP RADIO
Update hourly