Madison Memorial wins Big Eight girls tennis tournament
It was up to Madison Memorial junior Grace Olson on Thursday night to put the finishing touches on the Spartans’ clean sweep of the singles flights at the Big Eight Conference girls tennis tournament.
Olson delivered, defeating Madison West sophomore Maddi Bremel 6-4, 7-6 (3) in the No. 1 singles championship match at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
“That was definitely a goal I’ve had all season, so it feels good,” Olson said. “I didn’t really play like I wanted to, but it’s OK.”
It was more than OK because Olson’s victory closed out the Spartans’ first conference tournament title since 2005 in the two-day event. Memorial won the four singles titles and the No. 3 doubles crown.
“It’s definitely so exciting,” Olson said. “I don’t think we’ve done that since 2005. After we beat Middleton and (Madison) West in the regular season, I think we actually knew it was something we could do. It’s exciting that we achieved our goal.”
Memorial, ranked fifth in the state coaches’ poll, finished with 50 points to claim the title after finishing 9-0 and winning the conference dual season, also for the first time in 13 years. Sixth-ranked Middleton was second with 40 points and 11th-ranked and defending league champion Madison West finished third (39).
“It’s incredible,” said Spartans junior Julia Zhou, the No. 2 singles champion. “This is my third year on the varsity and throughout the years, we haven’t been at the top. This is really meaningful for our team. I’m glad I could contribute to our win.”
The Spartans advanced players to the finals in six of the seven flights. Their No. 3 doubles team of junior Meera Manoharan and sophomore Janna Liu earned Memorial’s first title — prior to Olson, Zhou, No. 3 Nikita Remesh and No. 4 Jessica Jiang claiming singles titles.
“That was exciting,” Spartans coach Joe King said. “We were just trying to keep things rolling from the season. We actually went undefeated in conference play at the singles flights all season long, which is incredible. Even our 2005 state tournament team had one (singles) loss in the conference, so we upped it one level.”
Olson, the top seed, advanced to the No. 1 singles final with a 6-1, 6-1 semifinal victory over Middleton’s Michelle Chi, while Bremel topped Verona junior Meredith Conley 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal.
The top-seeded Zhou defeated Madison West sophomore Abby Bremel 6-1, 6-1 in the No. 2 singles final. Zhou was the No. 3 singles champion at last year’s conference meet. Zhou is extremely consistent in her ability to return ground strokes and retrieve shots, qualities that can frustrate opponents.
“I keep hitting it back and they get impatient and try to hit a winner,” she said. “Then I try to run it down and get it back. Eventually, they get more impatient and hit it out.”
Top-seeded Remesh, a Memorial freshman, outlasted Middleton’s Abby Lin 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 in the No. 3 singles title match. Jiang, a sophomore who was the top seed, defeated Middleton’s Kayla Wiegand 6-2, 6-1 in the No. 4 singles final.
Manoharan and Liu upended Middleton’s top-seeded duo of Rose Ryan and Cece Hujanen 6-2, 7-6 (2) in the No. 3 doubles final.
Senior Maddie Clark and sophomore Karsen Dettman, the top-seeded duo from Middleton, won the No. 1 doubles title with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Sun Prairie sophomore Lauren Hope Bruemmer and junior Kaia Feldman.
“I’ve played doubles for four years and I’ve always had a different partner, so I’m used to changing it up a little bit,” the left-handed Clark said. “I think we adapt well to each other’s playing style.”
Clark said the duo wants to win the WIAA Division 1 state doubles title.
“I think we play really well together,” Dettman said. “We know how each other plays and we play off of that and cover each other well.”
West junior Camille Vadas and sophomore Sophie Knigge, the top-seeded duo, rallied to defeat Memorial seniors Megan Li and Catherine Wu 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the No. 2 doubles final.