Everyone of the North Shore Conference boys tennis teams got a little bit of something in their WIAA sectional efforts, though both Nicolet and Homestead were a bit disappointed that state team berths weren't in the offing.
Still, fourth-ranked Nicolet, despite a lopsided loss to defending state champion Marquette in the sectional team standings, advanced two singles players and all three doubles teams to the WIAA state individual tournament this weekend at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.
They will be joined by one singles player and two doubles teams for Homestead and two singles players and one doubles for Whitefish Bay.
'We actually played pretty well, but we were just a little bit outmatched at all levels,' said Nicolet coach Tim Koppa.
The North Shore Conference champion Knights will advance senior Rafi Barash at second singles (25-7); freshman Jaden Aranda at first singles (22-8); the eighth-seeded first doubles team of senior Jack Steinberger and sophomore Eli Winter (13-4); the 15th seeded second doubles team of junior Ari Robinson and senior Sam Scribner (19-11); and the third doubles team of juniors Eytan Robinson and Julian Lowe (29-1).
Koppa was very pleased for Barash, who moved up several flights this season in his fourth year on varsity and split time between second and first singles before Aranda established himself at the top spot.
'He really worked hard and had to play some of the best twos in the state,' Koppa said.
Koppa was also very happy for Robinson and Lowe, who he played up flights more than a few times this season to earn them enough credibility for a special qualifier slot. They suffered their first loss of the season in the sectional third flight finals to Marquette, which won all seven flights at the sectional.
Marquette dominated the sectional that was held at Nicolet with 56 points as Nicolet won the tiebreaker for second with Southeast Conference champion Franklin (33 points apiece).
Homestead was involved in a far more interesting team race in the sectional at Tosa West. Until the final round, the Highlanders (32 points) were right in the hunt before Brookfield Central pulled the upset on Brookfield East, 40-38, for the team title.
The Highlanders will still advance to the individual tournament junior Eric Mullins (15-16); the fifth-seeded doubles team of senior Aaron Holman and junior Tucker Gabriel (25-5); and the 14th-seeded doubles team of junior Sydan Parker and sophomore Robby Baranko (26-4).
'The sectional was very, very close,' said Highlanders coach Jackie Egelhoff. 'We had our chances.'
Homestead was involved in four flight championships, and in all cases they won the first set but eventually lost the match. Egelhoff said that kind of showing has been the story of the season for the team. The team title was decided when Homestead's third singles player David Berman lost his final in three sets to a Brookfield Central opponent, which clinched the title for the Lancers.
'6-4 in the third,' Egelhoff said.
Holman and Gabriel gave the undefeated and top-seeded Brookfield East first doubles team its first set loss of the season before falling in the semifinals.
'Again, it was a little disappointing that we couldn't finish the three-set matches, but the kids are progressively getting better,' Egelhoff said. 'We're also proud of the two doubles teams earning seeds and that Eric Mullins will pick up some great experience.'
Bay faced an uphill battle with Marquette and Nicolet in the sectional, but coach Phil Kelbe was still happy with the way the team competed.
'With Marquette and Nicolet in our subsectional, it's a challenge even getting to the sectionals in most flights,' he said. 'So to reach the sectional finals in three of the four singles is definitely a positive.'
Freshman Patrick Conta earned the 16th seed in singles (16-7) and will be joined in singles by Anthony Enea (20-6).
'Very happy for Anthony Enea,' Kelbe said. 'He's worked so hard and deserves to be there.'
In doubles, senior Brennan Gregg and junior Ben Rackovan (12-6) also advanced.
'Brennan and Ben finished their day with a close three-set win for third place over a 22-4 Franklin team,' Kelbe said.