Shorewood girls tennis coach Richard Vincent is an optimist and will be taking two entries to this weekend's WIAA D2 state tournament in Madison.
It just took him longer than he expected for his optimism to be rewarded.
He knew his team was a veteran squad, full of state-level talent, and several weeks before the fact, he stated in an email that several hotel rooms were already booked for the WIAA state tournament in Madison.
Then came the WIAA D2 sectional at UW-Whitewater on Oct. 5.
Full of top-ranked teams and state seeded players, the Greyhounds had a rough day against the field and earned no automatic qualifiers for the state tournament.
That meant that the team's fortunes rested on the vagaries and opinions of the state seeding committee, which met Oct. 7 in Stevens Point.
After which, Vincent and the Greyhounds could breath a bit easier. Multi-time state qualifier Elizabeth Krioutchenkov (11-7) and the first doubles team of Ellie Schmitt and Hannah Rosenbaum (8-9) will get to use those hotel rooms, as they both earned special state-qualifying berths from the selection committee.
And yet, Vincent was still a little disappointed.
"I was surprised that Margaret (second singles player Bugnacki) did not make it," he said. "If we had been in any other sectional, she would have been an automatic qualifier. To demonstrate my point, six of the eight singles seeds (at state) and five of the doubles seeds were from our sectional.
"I am happy that three of our seniors will be making the trip to Madison with (assistant) coach Amy Richmond and myself. Amy is the glue that keeps our team together. We all know the potential that Elizabeth (Krioutchenkov) possesses; in my opinion she is the best pure athlete in the field. Our doubles team, Ellie Schmitt and Hannah Rosenbaum, are poised to surprise. Hannah is a returning state qualifier, and Ellie Schmitt has upped her level of play during our recent practices."
Krioutchenkov will take on Giana Apostoli of Kenosha St. Joseph's (25-0), another special qualifier, in her first-round match Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Nielsen Tennis Center in Madison, while Rosenbaum and Schmitt will challenge Onalaska Luther's Keely Paus and Clare Schultz (24-5) later that same night.
Play will continue through the Saturday, Oct. 15 finals.
Shorewood finished fifth in the powerhouse Whitewater sectional with 18 points, as Madison Edgewood edged Kenosha St. Jsoeph's, 47-44, for the team title.
Both Krioutchenkov and the doubles team of Rosenbaum and Schmitt lost their quarterfinal matches. Other participants at sectional included freshman Bugnacki, who finished her season at 18-5 after taking fourth at second singles. The second doubles team of Edy Reckmeyer and Lindsay Nelson (11-9) also took fourth.
Vincent is pleased his top seniors get one last chance at state glory.
"A last hurrah," he said.