A loss in their Badger North opener wasn’t quite what the Waunakee girls’ tennis team was hoping for, but a big bounce-back later in the week quickly put it in their rearview mirror.
The Warriors dropped Tuesday’s contest in a close battle against Beaver Dam, but rebounded with a win two days later at Baraboo, followed by a tournament victory at Green Bay Southwest over the weekend.
Beaver Dam 4,
All week long, Waunakee was able to count on wins from Alexis Loomans at No. 4 singles and Danielle Rogers and Jadyn Statz at No. 3 doubles. In their combined 12 matches, Waunakee’s No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles flights dropped only one set en route to winning all 12 matches.
“[It] shows we have great depth on our team, and they will be key factors for all the tennis meets we have this season,” Waunakee’s Head Coach Chris Nuenthel said of Loomans, Rogers and Statz. “Both are undefeated in conference play and should be very confident going into the conference tournament in a few weeks.”
With those two wins, combined with a comeback win at No. 1 doubles by Trista Ripp and Sara Sowinski (3-6, 7-5, 6-1), Waunakee needed just one win in their remaining four matches to secure a team victory against the Golden Beavers. Their best chances were Alli Larsen at No. 3 singles and Julia Zabel and Eliza Endres at No. 2 doubles.
Both flights scored first-set victories, but neither were able to carry that momentum through to secure wins in their second or third sets. As a result, the Warriors dropped a close match against the Golden Beavers, putting them in an 0-1 hole to begin the Badger North season.
“What I saw in both those matches were our players working hard with a lot of energy in the first set to win those sets, but then after those sets were over, it was like a sigh of relief and the energy went down,” said Nuenthel. “The next day, we talked about keeping our energy high for a complete match.”
Waunakee ensured there would be no letdown against the Thunderbirds. Baraboo failed to win a single set, giving the Warriors a clean sweep.
Jena Opsahl took her No. 1 singles match 6-3, 6-1, Gretchen Lee won at No. 2 singles 6-2, 6-1, Larsen defeated her No. 3 singles opponent 6-2, 6-1, and Loomans won at No. 4 singles 6-0, 6-2.
At No. 1 doubles, Ripp and Sowinski took care of business 6-3, 6-1, Zabel and Endres won the closest match of the day at No. 2 doubles 7-5, 6-4, while Rogers and Statz completed the sweep with a 6-2, 6-0 win at No. 3 doubles.
With momentum heading into the weekend, the Warriors were poised to make some noise at the Green Bay Southwest Invite. Up first, though, was a late addition on Friday against West de Pere.
West de Pere 2
Against the Phantoms, Larsen and Loomans battled in extremely close matches.
“We could have lost 3-4 as a team, with Alli and Alexis both in third sets at the end,” said Nuenthel. “But we had more energy and positive attitudes to come out with a 5-2 win.”
Larsen and Loomans each split their first two sets, but ultimately emerged victorious by taking set number three 10-8. Larsen’s score was 6-2, 6-7 (6), 10-8, while Loomans’ was 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 10-8.
Combined with Lee’s 6-4, 6-2 win at No. 2 doubles, the Warriors needed just one win from their doubles teams to beat the Phantoms.
Waunakee got that and more winning two of three at doubles; Ripp and Sowinski defeated their counterparts 6-1, 6-3, and Rogers and Statz took down their opponents 6-3, 6-4 to head into Saturday with plenty of momentum.
Green Bay Southwest Invite
Waunakee kept on top of their game early on Saturday, beating Marshfield soundly. In their 6-1 win, the Warriors dropped a total of two sets, getting wins from Ripp and Sowinski, Rogers and Statz, Opsahl, Lee, Larsen and Loomans.
Rhinelander in round two provided a bit more resistance. Waunakee relied on the top and bottom of their lineup to score a tight 4-3 victory. Their No. 1 flights – Opsahl at singles and Ripp and Sowinski at doubles – both won in addition to Loomans at No. 4 singles and Rogers and Statz at No. 3 doubles.
The back-to-back wins vaulted them into the championship match against Sheboygan North.
While Waunakee was able to rely on Loomans and Rogers and Statz for a pair of wins once again, the Warriors weren’t able to beat Sheboygan North and take first place at the tournament.
Two matches – Opsahl at No. 1 singles and Zabel and Endres at No. 2 doubles – lost in three sets, while Ripp and Sowinski dropped a tightly contested two-set match 6-4, 7-6 (5). Even in the loss, the Warriors showed a great deal of progress from just days before.
“Since the Beaver Dam loss, we have gone 4-1 as a team, and we were actually two tie-breaks from being 5-0,” said Nuenthel. “These girls are stepping up and will be ready to play our best at the end of the season. I’m excited to see some rematches at the end of September.”
Waunakee returned home on Tuesday to face Reedsburg in their third Badger North dual, the results of which were unavailable for this week’s edition. The Warriors will hit the road again this Saturday when they travel to Brookfield East to play another tournament.