Doubles teams lead Nicolet tennis to sectional title
Five entries head to individual state
Glendale - The numbers issues that were an anchor for the team early in the season, are gone, and first singles player Emily Mone has pushed past early season health issues and is competing well again.
And the returning WIAA state team runner-up Nicolet girls tennis squad pulled away from rival Whitefish Bay to win the sectional title at Greenfield on Oct. 4.
As a result, almost everything is all right in the world of Knights coach Tim Koppa as he brings five entries to this weekend's WIAA State Individual Tournament at Nielsen Stadium in Madison and in a more important turn of events, earns another shot at Divine Savior Holy Angels and four-time state champ Homestead in the state team event Oct. 19-20.
"We had the small numbers in the beginning, but I guess you only need 10 to play," Koppa said, "but right now, we have a good 12 to 13 players. Still, we're hoping we stay away from injuries. … I tell you, it's a lot better making this ride back from this meet (sectional) after winning it than not."
Koppa is very disappointed that the third doubles team of seniors Michelle Tong and Mercedes Halaska (30-1) did not get a special qualifier slot for individual state.
"I don't know if I've wanted a team as badly to get in as them," he said before heading off to the state seeding meeting in Stevens Point on Friday.
But he is pleased for the entries who have made individual state.
Mone (17-12) earned a ninth-through-16th seed in the singles bracket and plays a 2 p.m. Thursday against Hudson's Kelsie Hines (18-11), while second singles player Nina Gerard takes on Sun Prairie freshman Dao Sysouvanh (20-1) at 4 p.m. that afternoon.
Meanwhile, third singles player Emma Wathen (27-5), who earned a special qualifier slot, plays at 4:30 p.m. Thursday against West Bend West's Emmy Kaftan (21-3).
However, Koppa's pinning his best hopes for his doubles' squad. The top pair Sara Miller and Josie Docalavich (25-5) earned the third seed and get a first-round bye into a second-round match at 11 a.m. Friday against the winner of a De Pere and Homestead match.
The Knights second team of Erin Wathen and Michelle Margolies (31-2) earned a ninth-through-16th seed and plays at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against a pair from Delavan-Darien.
Play continues all day Friday and into Saturday's championships that will be held around noon.
Koppa said the team is in no way looking ahead.
"There is such good competition at state that we're adopting a one weekend at a time philosophy," he said. "The individual tournament will give us a good feel for the teams we'll play at (team) state."
The Knights and the rest of the field battled some late raindrops ("Which added about three hours to our day," Koppa said) but still held off a determined effort from Bay, 51-44, in the final team standings.
Winning flights for the Knights were Gerard at two singles and Emma Wathen at three singles, as well as all three doubles teams.
"Bay put up very good fights at second and third doubles (in the finals)," Koppa said, "but I thought our second doubles team (Erin Wathen and Margolies) played great all day. When we needed big wins we were able to get them, and the play of our doubles teams inspired everyone else."
He also noted that Wathen and Gerard were "great all day."
"It went largely as I expected," he said. "I didn't expect to sweep (all flights) but we did try."
Mone was third at first singles and fourth singles player Audrey Liang (19-12) was second in her bracket.
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