The Arrowhead Invitational was no joke.
Taking on some of the best teams in the state, the Waunakee girls’ tennis team played Arrowhead, Whitefish Bay and Divine Savior Holy Angels – all of them strong programs – as the Warriors opened the 2022 season on Saturday, Aug. 13.
“All these teams we played are in the top 10 of state so it’s a very strong welcome to the season invite,” said Warriors’ Head Coach Chris Nuenthel.
Arrowhead was first up, with a singles group that was potent. Waunakee lost 6-1.
“Arrowhead has some very strong freshman talent at Nos. 2-4 singles this year, so their singles lineup is better than I was expecting,” said Nuenthel.
Waunakee’s Claire Jaeger and Gretchen Lee made a splash, outlasting Arrowhead’s Hannah Cady and Jane Berglin 6-3, 1-6, 10-2.
“The big win of the meet was our No. 1 doubles of Claire and Gretchen as they beat the Arrowhead duo that was the No. 2 seed at state last year,” said Nuenthel. “Hannah and Jane are a solid team, and I figure they will be a 1 or 2 seed again this year. Claire and Gretchen played exactly how they should have with nothing to lose, very aggressive, and not too predictable, so Hannah and Jane couldn’t get comfortable.”
The Warriors lost all singles matches in straight sets, but Simone Nowinski and Sophie Schnaubelt pushed Arrowhead’s No. 2 doubles tandem of Myla Brunner and Lily Liu to the brink, before falling 6-4, 7-5.
“The other impressive match was No. 2 doubles with Simone and Sophie as they barely lost to an Arrowhead team that went undefeated on the day,” said Nuenthel. “The second set Simone and Sophie went up 5-4 serving for the set, and I believe had at least one set point, but after we couldn’t convert, they let down a little and lost the next three games.”
Whitefish Bay also turned back Waunakee 6-1, but Jaeger and Lee came up big again, battling Bryn Gonzalez and Katy Kops to a 1-6, 6-3, 10-3 win. They had to adjust to a different style of play.
“Another big win of the meet was our No. 1 doubles of Claire and Gretchen as they beat Bryn (who was seeded 7th last season in doubles) and Katy,” said Nuenthel. “This match was a little different style than the Arrowhead match, so it took a set to adjust, regroup, and figure out the game plan that worked well.”
Anna Loken loss at No. 1 singles to Clare Schaefer was closer than the 6-2, 6-0 count would indicate.
“Whitefish Bay got a really good No. 1 singles freshman this year, but Anna played her tough,” said Nuenthel. “The score doesn’t reflect that as there were so many games that went to deuce, but we couldn’t convert many of those.”
Caroline Lee was a tough out at No. 2 singles, as well. She lost 6-2, 7-5 to Hannah Griggs.
“Caroline at No. 2 singles also played very tough and went up 5-4 in the second set of her match but got a little tight closing out the set,” said Nuenthel.
Then, the Warriors went up against Divine Savior Holy Angels, the state’s top-ranked team.
“Their lineup depth is amazing,” said Nuenthel. “Our singles played well, but we need to get more consistent as a lot of their players were just trying to hit the ball deep and at least 10 times in a row. There was nothing flashy about their games, just very consistent and not giving up easy points. I was happy that in all the singles scores our second sets were better than the first sets, so that’s a step in the right direction.”
Loken, Lee, Ely Liu and Ryan Hoopes all lost in straight sets, but they did win 20 games in total in the defeats, with Liu dropping the No. 3 singles match 6-2, 6-4 and Hoopes falling 6-3, 7-6 at No. 4 singles.
At No. 2 doubles, Schnaubelt and Nowinski gave KK Buettner and Kelly Coury all they wanted and then some but lost 3-6, 6-2, 10-3.
“Their doubles were also very solid, and the doubles match of the meet was Simone and Sohpie at 2 doubles, as they lost a close one in three sets,” said Nuenthel.
Waunakee plays at Stevens Point on Wednesday, Aug. 17, and heads to a two-day invitational on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 19-20.