Prep girls tennis: Middleton’s Maddie Clark has her sights set on a shot at the WIAA state title

September 20, 2018

After six years of competitive tennis, Maddie Clark has her eyes on the prize.Joining sophomore doubles partner Karsen Dettman, the Middleton senior has put together another strong season.Last year, Clark teamed with Michelle Chi to advance to the round of 16 at the WIAA Division 1 state individual tournament. Chi is now Middleton’s No. 1 singles player — and in a state with a considerable amount of tennis talent, Clark and Dettman have not disappointed.

“We’ve won all of our matches except for one, and that was to Nicolet, and then we just beat them in an invitational,” Clark said.“We just won the Nicolet (Sweet Sixteen Invitational),” Dettman added, casually citing what might be the state’s toughest regular-season tournament.In the field was the only doubles pair to beat Clark and Dettman this year: Nicolet’s Annabelle Crowley and Emma Koppa, who took fifth at state in 2017 and took a 6-2, 6-2 win over Clark and Dettman earlier this season.This time out, Clark and Dettman beat the Nicolet pair in straight sets 7-5, 7-6 (4).According to coach Dennis Bradley, Clark and Dettman will be a formidable opponent throughout the postseason.

“They are going to be a tough out for anyone they end up playing in sub-sectionals, sectionals, or at state,” Bradley said in an email to The Wisconsin State Journal. “They have the benefit of having already played against some of the best teams in the state and I think they are very focused on their goals. I’m confident they will be playing their best tennis when we get to that point of the season.”Bradley also added that Clark and Dettman’s offseason work together was apparent in their on-court performance, and that they are continuing to improve every match.

After the Nicolet win, Clark believes the ceiling is sky high. The drive will begin when Clark, Dettman and Chi lead the Cardinals into the Big Eight Conference tournament on Sept. 26-27 at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.The Cardinals also hope to make it to team state, but they’ll have to win the Madison Memorial sectional to qualify. Middleton did not reach that goal last year, taking third in the sectional behind West and Memorial.However, Middleton has grown from that defeat, beating both schools in dual meets this season.The Cardinals met Memorial last Monday, and Clark and Dettman took a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 2017 state qualifiers Anna Hubbard and Devika Kamath.“We made a few unforced errors, but we kept it together,” Dettman said after the match.When asked who they view as competition for their state championship ambitions, they narrowed it to one team: Nicolet.Their reasoning fits. There were only two doubles pairs seeded ahead of Crowley and Kappa in 2017, and all four of those players were seniors.

Heading into the Big Eight Conference tournament next Wednesday, Clark has high aspirations for both her and her team this postseason.“I think it’s going to go really well. Hopefully we can make it to team state, and our goal is to win state,” Clark said.

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