Milton head coach Ethan Langer joked that it only took him five years to reach the state tournament.
Better late than never.
Juniors Miles Stuckey and Luke Grote were the ones to finally bring Langer, a former Milton tennis player, to the state meet, as the duo competed at the WIAA Division 2 State Doubles Tournament on Thursday, May 31, at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.
“It was a surreal experience, the first time in five years a Milton team has made it to the state tennis tournament,” said Langer, who is in his first year as head coach. “It was amazing to see.”
The last time the Red Hawks were represented at the state meet, Langer was just a sophomore in high school on the JV tennis team.
Stuckey and Grote, who received a special qualifier spot into the state meet, were defeated by Madison Memorial seniors Ryan Weinbach and Santiago Barquin in the first round of the doubles bracket.
“They [Stuckey and Grote] didn’t expect to make it this year, but they were both really excited about it,” Langer said. “They were just happy to be there.”
The Red Hawk pair one won game, falling 6-1, 6-0 to the Spartan duo.
It was the same Spartan pair that knocked off Stuckey and Grote in the sectionals.
“They definitely could have beat them, but their mindset was a little off both days,” Langer said. “It’s just that Madison team mentality. Whenever we go up against a Madision team it’s, ‘oh we can’t win.’”
Nicolet’s Ridley Aranda and Jaden Aranda won the doubles tournament.
“They got to see some other state teams up there that were state contenders,” Langer said.
The pair is set to be back for their second year together as seniors next year.
“I think they’re going to start going into matches thinking, we got this, which will be awesome to see for next season,” Langer said. “They both know what they need to work on. They saw the aggression out of the other state teams that were there. Hopefully they implement that to their games next year.”