After a year-and-a-half wait, the Milton High girls tennis team is ready to bounce back from a tough fall 2019 season.
The Red Hawks played tough against many opponents but finished with just two dual wins and no sectional qualifiers.
“We had a lot of close matches, but just couldn’t seem to close them out,” head coach Ethan Langer said.
Despite the tough season and losing seven players to graduation, Langer said he has seen great things and is hopeful for this season.
“(Last year’s seniors) brought that Milton spirit we hope all our athletes develop during their time in our tennis program,” Langer said. “They helped mentor our up-and-coming players and still do to this day. It’s always hard to lose a group like we had last year.”
But the Red Hawks do have six players returning with varsity experience. Those include seniors Emily McNett, Ella Davis, Ali Suchanek and Kelly Ploszaj, along with junior Natalie Niemeyer.
“They all want to win and have great fun doing it,” Langer said. “I expect their records this season to better represent the time and effort they put into our practices than the records did last season. They are already setting a great example for our new players, and I’m always happy when that comes naturally to the team.”
Those new-to-varsity players include sophomore Hana Grossman and freshmen Abby Kueng and Romy Khoury.
“They have come onto the court rackets swinging,” Langer said. “Abby and Romy are great examples of players who want to succeed. From day one, I could tell they have put in the time outside of the season. From their form and strategy going into their singles matches, I can tell the team is going to be reliant on them in years to come. I expect great things out of these two singles players over the next four years.
“Hana came into the season with powerful serves and baseline shots. Currently sitting at our No. 2 doubles position, she quickly moved into a tough position that is going to be challenging, but if anyone is up to the challenge, she is.
“These three additions have quickly cemented their place in the Milton tennis program and are all going to be great role models moving forward.”
Langer said the team’s singles lineup, where Niemeyer will again be the anchor in the No. 1 spot, moved much less than the doubles lineup.
“Having only one of the four (doubles) rotating teams from last season return, it put players into a tough position. Suddenly having to play varsity matches is a hard transition,” Langer said.
Despite the tough transition for some, Langer added that the No. 2 and 3 doubles teams are playing well against teams that have been playing varsity for multiple seasons.
Although experience in some areas might be a weakness, Langer said the team’s resilience is sure to be a strength.
“Win or lose, they want to constantly improve, and that’s amazing to see out of such a tough position they have been put into,” Langer said.
Langer said his goal for the season is to simply “have fun.”
“With COVID putting a damper on our normal season, I’m just glad we are out playing tennis again,” Langer said. “I want our seniors to play to the best of their ability and leave the season knowing they left it out on the court.
“For our other players, I hope to teach them as much as I can and have them really develop into the varsity role they now hold. They are already exceeding my expectations and I hope it continues.”
As of yet, there will be no Badger Conference Tournament as there would be in a regular fall season, but the WIAA has announced a postseason tournament series with the chance to go to state. Langer said he hopes to get all his players at least through to sectionals this season.
“As a coach, my No. 1 priority is that the players have fun,” Langer said. “Winning is great, but if players don’t have fun doing it, what’s the point? I know many players were hesitant to come back with the circumstances of this year. I hope that I’m able to see them back on the court having fun.
“With the amount this team wants to succeed, I believe anything is possible this season and I’m excited to see what happens.”
(RESULT AUG. 19)
MILTON 5, MONROE 2
Singles—Natalie Niemeyer (Mil) def. Kylie Miller, 6-4, 6-3. Emily McNett (Mil) def. Cecily Burch 6-3, 6-2. Kelly Ploszaj (Mil) def. Allison Wunshel 6-3, 6-3. Abby Kueng (Mil) def. Alicia Brunton 6-0, 6-1.
Doubles—Ali Suchanek-Ella Davis (Mil) def. Bella Brunton-Melena Brunton 6-4, 6-1. Bre Giasson-Sydney Conway (Mon) def. Holly Garber-Hana Grossman 6-2, 7-5. Maddy Weis-Morgan Johnson (Mon) def. Amelia Urbik-Kate Bucklin 6-3, 6-2.
(RESULT AUG. 26)
MONONA GROVE 6, MILTON 1
Singles—Natalie Niemeyer (Mil) def. Maggie Davis, 6-3, 6-4. Mary Clark (MG) def. Emily McNett 6-0, 6-0. Paige Hanson (MG) def. Kelly Ploszaj 6-0, 6-0. Ava Zebell (MG) by forfeit.
Doubles—Kate Walsh-Marissa Light (MG) def. Ella Davis-Romy Khoury 6-0, 6-1. Leah Plourd-Annie Bernards (MG) def. Hana Grossman-Amanda Cudziovic 6-3, 7-6. Sarah Sperle-Bella Nuon (MG) def. Amelia Urbik, Kate Bucklin 6-3, 1-6, 1-0.
CRAIG 10, PARKER 3, MILTON 3
Singles—No. 1—Natalie Niemeyer (M) def. Lucy Barnes (P), 7-6 (4), 6-2. No. 2—Emily McNett (M) def. Victoria-Anna Kampmann (P) 6-2 , 6-0. No. 1—Lucia Hyzer (C) def. Barnes, 6-2 , 6-2. No. 2—Allison Grund (C) def. Mildred Hernandez Garcia (P) 6-0 , 6-0. No. 1—Hyzer def. Niemeyer, 7-5, 6-3. No. 2—Grund def. McNett 6-1 , 6-0. No. 3—Eni Agollori (C) def. Romy Khoury (M) 6-3 , 6-2.
Doubles—No. 1—Annie Barnes-Lydia Quade (P) def. Ella Davis-Kelly Ploszaj (M), 6-1 , 6-1. No. 2—Hallie Boston-Myha Mohr (P) def. Hana Grossman-Amanda Cudziovic (M), 3-6 , 6-1 , 20-18. No. 3—Kate Bucklin-Amelia Urbik (M) def. Lisa Miguel-Abrianna Schoff (P), 6-1 , 6-2. No. 1—Quade-Barnes def. Sage Baumeister-Brooke Pehl (C), 7-5 , 6-1. No. 2—Madison Burrow-Ellah Turenne (C) def. Boston-Mohr, 6-2 , 6-2. No. 3—Bailey Valet-Charlotte Mark (C) def. Kampmann-Schoff, 6-1 , 6-0. No. 1—Baumeister-Pehl def. Davis-Ploszaj, 6-0 , 6-0. No. 2—Turenne-Ceballos def. Hana Grossman-Amanda Cudziovic (M), 6-2 , 6-3. No. 3—Bianca Holz-Hattie Plenty (C) def. Bucklin-Urbik, 6-0 , 6-0.
SHEBOYGAN NORTH 7, MILTON 0
Singles—Estelle Leonhard (SN) def. Natalie Niemeyer 6-2, 6-4. Emily Fisher (SN) def. Emily McNett 6-0, 6-1. Emma Quasius (SN) def. Romy Khoury 6-1, 6-1.
Doubles—Madison Roth-Maddie Bradshaw (SN) def. Kelly Ploszaj-Ella Davis 6-4, 6-3. Emma Perrone-Ella Yang (SN) def. Hana Grossman-Amanda Cudziovic 6-4, 3-6, 10-5. Amelia Redell-Erin Jaeger (SN) def. Amelia Urbik-Kate Bucklin 6-0, 6-2.