The Waunakee boys tennis team did not show many signs of long layoff that included losing the 2020 season to the pandemic.
The Warriors claimed another Badger North Conference title, placed in the top three at sectionals and advanced one to state.
“I would rate this season very high mainly because it was great to get back to competing in our sport and seeing all the boys enjoying a fun spring season again,” Waunakee coach Chris Nuenthel said. “The only down fall was all the paperwork/rules for COVID, but every sport had to deal with that.”
The Warriors faced a number of challenges this spring, including navigating through protocols and procedures due to the ongoing pandemic.
“The biggest challenge for use we trying to put together a full schedule in such a short season, which hurt our time for practice,” Nuenthel said. “Besides the required practice time before you can have your first competition, I think as a team we only had three practices the entire season and that is hard to work on growth in a sport like tennis. We had to treat matches sometimes as a practice and work on things.
“I will remember how the season started with about a half of a schedule to start, and then each week it was updated with additions especially with Madison schools allowed to have their spring season,” he added. “Each week, and even daily, it seemed like something was new with our schedule, so updates needed to be communicated a lot.”
Waunakee had a great start to the season with 7-0 Badger North shutouts over Sauk Prairie, Portage, DeForest and Beaver Dam.
The Warriors went on to shutout conference rivals Reedsburg and Baraboo to head into the Badger North Tournament with a lot of momentum.
Waunakee dominated the conference tournament. The Warriors dropped just one match and earned six titles on their way to the team championship.
Waunakee finished the tournament with 40 points, while Reedsburg was a distant second with 21. Portage and Sauk Prairie tied for third place with 10 team points, followed by Baraboo (nine), DeForest (nine) and Beaver Dam (six).
The Warriors earned their second straight overall Badger North crown with 12 points, followed by Reedsburg (10), Portage (six), Sauk Prairie (six), Baraboo (five), DeForest (four) and Beaver Dam (four).
Tyler Nelson (No. 1), Caden Collins (No. 2), Levi Christian (No. 3) and Hayden Liu (No. 4) all claimed conference singles crowns for the Warriors. Reed Christian and Matthew Pulermacher won the title at No. 1 doubles, while George Zimbric and Jaxon Wipperfurth came out on top at No. 3 doubles.
Waunakee’s No. 2 duo of Aiden Schmalz and Joey Dettor placed second at the conference tournament.
The Warriors had three singles players and all three doubles teams advance out of the subsectional, but Nelson was the only one to qualify for state.
Nelson finished second at the sectional.
Waunakee finished the sectional with 12 points to place third behind Middleton (50) and Arrowhead (36).
In his second appearance at state, Nelson, a junior, received the No. 8 seed. He advanced to the third round before bowing out.
“Tyler got the highest singles seed for Waunakee in the Division 1 state tournament,” Nuenthel said. “Singles is a very strong field, so to be ranked in the top 10 since he’s been a freshman is very impressive.”
The Warriors were led this season by a strong senior group, which included Reed Christian, Andrew Collins, Sean Hall, Brian Hlathein, Jonah Leland, Ethan Macksam and Matthew Pulvermacher.
“I thought our seniors came out and did the best with what they were given to enjoy their last season as a Waunakee Warrior,” Nuenthel said. “We had great leadership, organization, and awesome attitudes the entire spring.”
Nuenthel is already looking forward to next season and getting back to normal.
“I can’t wait to start our season in March, thanks to having growth throughout our long spring season, and getting back to a normal schedule,” Nuenthel said.