Area netters adapt to new reality, advance several to state individual tournament
10 entries to head to Madison
Though area tennis coaches Jackie Egelhoff of Homestead, Tim Koppa of Nicolet and Phil Kelbe of Whitefish Bay weren't entirely pleased with the outcome of WIAA sectional action last week, all admitted that there were some compensations to the new reality.
That being the newly issued WIAA gerrymandering that placed six of the most talented teams in the state (defending champion Marquette, Homestead, Bay, Nicolet and Brookfield East and Central ) into two sectional brackets as opposed to the usual three.
"It wasn't neccessarily that bad," said Egelhoff, whose team was beaten in the Brookfield Central sectional by a resurgent East squad. "We knew how good they (the Spartans) were. It was going to be an uphill battle and some of the scores were quite competitive."
East takes sectional
East won the sectional title, 54-44, over the Highlanders, winning six of the seven individual flight crowns and knocking the three-time WIAA state runner-up Homestead squad from the state team tournament for the first time since 2004.
The Highlanders instead advance to state 10th-seeded Danny Coran (20-4) and Will Kammerait (23-4) in singles and the fifth-seeded doubles team of Peter Apfelbach and Adam Bodner (22-6) as well as the second doubles team of Jason Jesse and Daniel Kleytman (21-6) to the WIAA State Individual Tournament Madison's Nielsen Tennis Stadium this weekend.
Apfelbach and Bodner were the only individual flight champions, knocking off their rivals from East, 6-3, 6-4.
"They're really enjoying this time of the season," Egelhoff said of her all senior pairing.
Play begins Thursday morning and continues through Saturday's finals.
Marquette dominates sectional
Meanwhile, at the Greenfield sectional last week, it was no surprise that Nicolet and Whitefish Bay trailed the six-time state champion Marquette squad, as the Hilltoppers won all seven flights en route to 56 points as Nicolet was second with 37 and Bay fourth with 25.
Nicolet advanced to state 15th-seeded Kevin Ballecer (19-11) and 16th-seeded Calin Dumitrescu (24-4) in singles, as well as the fourth-seeded doubles team of Ben Levey and Sam Berman (20-5).
"There were no big surprises out there," Koppa said. "It basically went the way it was supposed to. We tried to lift the level of our game and stay competitive with Marquette."
One thing that Koppa did note was that he and the state seeding committee for the first time did fully seed one through 16 in singles and doubles. It used to be that the committee would fully seed only the first eight giving special consideration though no true rank for players in the ninth through 16th positions.
"This year it puts my guys in the right in the way of the top two seeds (in singles)," Koppa said. "It takes a little more time, but it is the right thing, the fair thing to do."
For Kelbe, he took a special note of pride in his doubles players. as Matt Kavanagh and Graham Martens (23-2) claimed the third seed and Andy Krugler and John Burns (21-3) earned the seventh spot.
They were joined in the field by top singles player Wentong Zhang (17-8).
"When you have the kinds of records that those two (doubles teams) do you're having a pretty good year," Kelbe said. "They've competed against each other and they've both spent some time at the number one spot and beaten some pretty good teams in the process.
"Both are very deserving of their top eight positions."
Kelbe was also pleased with how Zhang has turned his season around.
"He's had a lot of pressure on him, but he's performing well at this point," Kelbe said.
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