In his 37th year, Brown Deer tennis coach Jim Matousek has learned to adapt to the talent that comes his way.
Take his WIAA D2 state-qualifying doubles team of senior Johnny Pierson and senior Craig Schimenz.
Pierson is a top-of-the line soccer player, while Schimenz has been a deadly shooting guard for the powerhouse boys basketball team for the last four years.
'It's nice to have athletes,' he said. 'We really don't have tennis players per se, we have athletes. We don't get the kids who play year-round and come in with great technique, but from time-to-time, we find athletes.
'These guys literally don't pick up a racquet until the end of March, so this is a testament to their drive and talent. They deserve their place here.'
The duo set a single-season school record for doubles wins.
Pierson is making his second trip to state, having advanced in doubles two years ago with his older brother, Jimmy. Pierson and Schimenz (24-3) earned a special qualifier berth into the D2 field after falling to a Kenosha St. Joseph pair, 6-4, 6-1, in quarterfinal sectional play last week at Pleasant Valley Tennis Club.
Ironically, the state seeding committee threw them back in with the St. Joseph's pair in their first-round state match at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 2, at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison. They will be joined at state by Shorewood's first doubles team of junior James Ewing and sophomore Adam Kelly (11-7), who also earned a special qualifier slot and who will take on a Grafton pair at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 2.
'I'm not overly concerned about the pairing,' said Matousek. 'We just didn't play well (at sectional). If we play as well as we can, we'll be fine because this is a very deep field. Anyone of 10 or 12 teams, including ours, could win it. There's no really great team out there. We just have to play well. We can't let ourselves get caught up in the moment. We just have to finish points.'
Schimenz and Pierson have done that a great deal this season as they've helped the Falcons to a 13-9 dual-meet record. They have beaten three teams in the state field, including the Shorewood pair (three times), Luther Prep and Grafton.
Aside from their athleticism, Matousek said Pierson and Schimenz have one special trait that separates them from others.
'Never have I had kids who want to win so badly,' he said. 'They just have great inner drive that really carries them. It goes well beyond what they do on the tennis courts. I'm sure they'll be very successful in whatever they do beyond sports because of it.'
'They are very focused on being the best.'
For Shorewood, Ewing and Kelly didn't even advance to the WIAA sectional, having lost in in what was a very loaded subsectional round (University School, Brookfield Academy, etc.). But because of the strength of their schedule, they still earned a special qualifier slot.
Others who participated in sectional for the Woodland Conference runner-up squad included sophomore Christian Schiro (8-4) at third singles, senior Zach Lambert at fourth singles (10-2) and the third doubles team of juniors Jack Schill and Cal Papineau (19-0).
Schiro (8-4) finished fourth at third singles, while Lambert (10-2) was third at fourth singles, and Schill and Papineau (21-0) finished a spectacular season in winning the third doubles bracket, defeating the USM pair in the final.
The Greyhounds finished third in the nine-team subsectional field and eventually earned a solid fifth in the 18-team WIAA sectional with 21 points as USM won with 45.