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NSC tennis race too close to call as tourney looms this weekend

Champ HHS narrowly ahead of Nicolet

May 14, 2013

The standings are closer than it has been in several years and so, of course, there are complicating factors making it all the more tense as the North Shore Conference tournament is set to be contested Thursday and Saturday at Homestead and Cedarburg.

Aside from all the little injuries, nicks and illnesses slowing various athletes down, there will be widespread Advanced Placement testing Thursday that will affect the top three contenders, defending champion Homestead, Nicolet and Whitefish Bay, to varying degrees.

So what else can happen this spring in the North Shore Conference tennis race?

"We'll see," said Jackie Egelhoff, coach of the defending champion Homestead squad. "We also have that and Will Kammerait (the second singles player) will be in his brother's wedding this weekend, and, of course, it's out of state. I'm not sure how that's going to play out.

"All I know, is that this is the closest conference tournament in years and that's a good thing for the league. We'll go in positive. Everyone is stepping up right now and otherwise feeling good."

The Highlanders battled rain and cold and a change of venue Saturday, as the Manitowoc Invitational was canceled due to bad weather, but still several teams from that event made it down to the calmer Milwaukee area where two rounds of dual meets were played at various sites.

Homestead beat Manitowoc Roncalli (7-0), but then fell to old nemesis, multitime state champion Marquette, 6-1, as Kammerait got the only win at two singles.

Nicolet grabs quality wins

Meanwhile, Nicolet tuned up well last week, securing second place in the NSC dual meet standings, with two good wins over Germantown (6-1) and Bay (6-1) as well as a 7-0 triumph over Cedarburg. They then beat Franklin (7-0) and Manitowoc (6-1) as part of that compromised Manitowoc Invitational on Saturday.

Niolet coach Tim Koppa said he's feeling good about his team's level of play, too, especially that of the first double team Ben Levey and Sam Berman, who pulled out impressive rallies for victories in their duals with Manitowoc and Germantown last week.

"They're starting to learn and wins like these should have a pretty good impact on their (WIAA) seeding potential," Koppa said.

He, too, is excited for the tournament, as the Knights lost a a close league decision to Homestead earlier this season before coming up not as well in a more recent tournament decision to the Highlanders.

"We're going into the championship just a couple of points down (to Homestead)," he said. "It's the closest it's been in at least a few years. ... We'll see if we can get it figured out."

Bay tries to bounce back

Bay is coming in looking for a bit of a bounce, as they defeated Grafton, 7-0, but then dropped duals to Nicolet and to Homestead (also 6-1).

"It was a bit disappointing either way," coach Phil Kelbe said. "I know Nicolet is a little stronger than we are this year and we're not. I think Tim (Koppa) likes his chances. I know he didn't like the way his team played them (the Highlanders) the last time (in that tournament defeat) so I think he'll have his guys motivated."

The only wins the Blue Dukes pulled out against Homestead and Nicolet came at second doubles, but with different teams. Against the Highlanders, it was the duo of Graham Martens and Matt Kavanagh and against Nicolet it was the pairing of Andy Krugler and John Burns.

Nicolet and Bay will then be part of a difficult WIAA subsectional that includes Marquette and will be played Merrill Park in Milwaukee on Monday. Qualifiers from there will advance to the sectional at Greenfield on May 23.

Homestead will take part in the Cedarburg subsectional on Monday with sectional play at Brookfield Central on May 22.

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