Bachman's visit inspires Bay netters after loss to Nicolet
Knights edge Blue Dukes, 4-3
Great rivalries never die, as long as there is someone around to remember and remind people what they're playing for.
First-year Whitefish Bay girls tennis coach Mike Hayes remembers much and he knows people who remember even more. He sent over this e-mail a day or two after the latest Nicolet-Whitefish Bay thriller on Sept. 12. It is largely verbatim, just lightly edited for continuity purposes.
"The day after the Whitefish Bay Girls Varsity tennis team fell 4-3 to Nicolet in a North Shore thriller on Sept. 12, Cary Bachman paid an unexpected visit to the Cahill Courts for a Friday afternoon practice. Quickly ordering the players off the court for an impromptu meeting, Hayes said: "Ladies, water break, right now, right here. This is Cary Bachman, the greatest coach in the history of Wisconsin high school tennis and he has a few words for you."
Bachman was present at the inception of WIAA Girls Tennis in 1971. During the following 26 years he coached Nicolet to 13 championships. From 1964 to 1990, he coached the Nicolet boys to 20 championships. He told the players that all of his daughters attended Whitefish Bay High School where they won two state doubles championships and one state singles championship for Whitefish Bay High School. He addressed the players:
"It's all about you and Nicolet, isn't it?," Bachman said, "and that's how it has always been. Sure, there will be a team from the valley or somewhere else in the state and maybe a Brookfield team, and they'll all be really happy to come here for a day or two to play Whitefish Bay and Nicolet but what really matters, what's always really mattered, is whether at the end of the season it's Whitefish Bay or Nicolet. My wife and I raised four daughters while living in Whitefish Bay for over 30 years.
"All my daughters went to Whitefish Bay and all succeeded in tennis and other activities while I, meanwhile, was a teacher and coach at Nicolet. It was always a simple situation: The Whitefish Bay girls vs. the Nicolet girls and all of them made themselves better in the process. They all belong to a great sorority. Your match yesterday, your upcoming matches with Nicolet, this is the central match in girls tennis in Wisconsin. Always has been, so feel proud to be in the greatest rivalry in high school tennis in Wisconsin."
Hayes, was needless to say, stunned.
"Coach Bachman watched the rest of the practice with me offering tips," Hayes said. "After I told him that I had told my players before his arrival that I had let them down by getting out-coached by Nicolet coach Tim Koppa. I mentioned the outstanding coaching of Stephanie Beatty who led the Bay JV to a 7-0 victory over Nicolet's JV.
"I thanked coach Bachman for emphasizing the importance of the occasion, and I thanked him for not muddying the waters by mentioning that Brookfield Central has nine state titles to Whitefish Bay's eight and Nicolet's 16 since 1971. I mentioned that his comments might raise an eyebrow from three other very high level programs that each have five championships —(current champion) Homestead, USM and Green Bay Notre Dame."
No insult taken or inferred on that last point, as Bay and Nicolet remain firmly in the oligarchy of teams that dominate girls state tennis.
Their latest dual on Sept. 12 rose to the level of excellence that has been a trademark of this rivalry over the decades.
The match came down to second singles where the Knights' Nina Gerard rallied to defeat the Blue Dukes' Asia Butler, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
It was the only three-set match of the dual. Other wins for Nicolet included Gerard's younger sister, Elise, claiming a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Katy Marget at third singles, the first doubles team of Sara Miller and Michelle Margolies defeating Bay's Allison Gregg and Carly Theder, 6-0, 6-1; and the second doubles team of Erin Wathen and Josie Docalavich beating the Blue Dukes' Maddie Reid and Coeli Merrill, 6-2, 6-2.
Claiming victories for Bay were Haye's daughter, Lily, at first singles, where she downed the Knights' Emily Mone, 6-3, 6-2; fourth singles player Gwennie O'Connell beating Nicolet's Audrey Laing, 6-4, 6-1; and the third doubles crew Maggie Bostwick and Megan Coffey beating Bella Mahlik and Marli Stellhorn, 6-2, 6-3.
The win was a good bounce-back for the Knights after a tough, 6-1, loss to five-time WIAA State champion Homestead on Sept. 10 (see Sports Shorts).
Hayes was disappointed, citing his own coaching failures but noted that there is an opportunity for redemption as the teams may meet up to three more times this season including the North Shore Conference tournament and the WIAA state tournament series.
Preparation key to winning
The goal to reverse the recent trend against Nicolet is ground zero for the Blue Dukes, though it will not be easy to execute. He spoke of improvement and of being better prepared.
"Our rate of improvement is a point of pride for our program," Hayes said. "It's Duke Pride. In 2010, Bay's rate of improvement resulted in a 51-49 win over Nicolet at sectionals, taking Bay to team state. Our rate of improvement fell short in 2011, when Nicolet won 54-41 and in 2012 when Nicolet won 51-44. Our season begins and ends with one goal: get to team state. It just so happens that the road runs through Nicolet."
Then he came back to the fundamental thing, the primary driver that his visitor pointed out when he dropped by the other day.
"It's like Cary Bachman told our players: "It's all about you and Nicolet, isn't it?" Hayes said.
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