Tennis going to WIAA state tournament in two flightsTwo Raider seniors will wrap up their high school tennis careers at this weekend’s WIAA State Tournament and will be joined by a pair of junior teammates when play begins Thursday, Oct. 14 in Madison.
By: Bob Burrows, Hudson Star-Observer
Two Raider seniors will wrap up their high school tennis careers at this weekend’s WIAA State Tournament and will be joined by a pair of junior teammates when play begins Thursday, Oct. 14 at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium on the campus of UW-Madison.
Seniors Morgan Karras and Whitney Theisen advanced to state with a third-place finish at No. 1 doubles at last Wednesday’s sectional tournament in Marshfield while juniors Casey Fall and Jenny Fassbinder placed second at No. 2 doubles to earn a spot as special qualifiers. It will be the first trip to state for all four Raiders.
Fall and Fassbinder begin state tournament play Thursday at 3:30 p.m. against Mikayla Johnson and Laura Xu of Madison Memorial while Karras and Theisen will play their first match at 5:30 p.m. against Kendra Woyahn and Zoe Roecker of Kettle Moraine.
As a team, the Raiders finished second at last Wednesday’s Marshfield Sectional with 29 points. Eau Claire Memorial took first with 50 points to earn a spot at the state team tournament Oct. 22-23.
Karras and Theisen won two of their three sectional matches to finish third at No. 1 doubles. They opened with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Wausau West before losing to Wausau East, 3-6, 6-3, 5-7. They clinched a berth in the state tournament with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Stevens Point.
“Morgan and Whitney came ready to play as they had their sights set on Madison for awhile now,” Raider coach Dave Dahl said. “They played some quality tennis and are very deserving of their chance to play in the state tournament.”
Karras and Theisen enter the state tournament with a record of 15-4.
Fall and Fassbinder defeated Merrill, 6-0, 6-1, in their first sectional match before losing to Eau Claire Memorial, 3-6, 6-3, 1-6. They had to wait until Sunday morning to find out if they had earned a spot at state as extra qualifiers based on their 18-2 season record.
“Casey and Jenny were pretty disappointed they didn’t beat Memorial for the third time, but their spirits were boosted with a special qualifier for the state tournament,” Dahl said. “They’re the toughest two doubles teams I’ve ever had and the first to make it to state. I’m just thrilled for them.”
The Raiders’ No. 3 doubles team of seniors Lauren Duffy and Kelsey Scharfenberg also went 1-1 at sectional to finish second but failed to advance to the state tourney. They defeated a previously undefeated team from Wausau East, 6-1, 6-1, before falling to Eau Claire Memorial, 5-7, 2-6.
“Their win over an undefeated team from East was one of the best matches anyone on our team has played this season,” Dahl said. “I’m real proud of what these two seniors did for this team this season and during their careers. It will be very difficult to replace these two.”
Nicole Buechler, Morgan Van Allen and Racheal Knoke gave it their best shot in singles play but each came away winless at Wednesday’s Marshfield Sectional.
Buechler dropped her only match of the day, 2-6, 6-1, 3-6 to a player from Wausau East.
“I’m really proud of the way Nicole battled today, and the whole season for that matter,” Dahl said. “She played through pain for six weeks and finished within a couple of games of qualifying for state. Her leadership as captain had a lot to do with our team success this year.”
Van Allen finished fourth at No. 2 singles after losing to Merrill 5-7, 4-6, and Marshfield, 2-6, 3-6. Knoke lost a pair of three-set matches — 6-4, 4-6, 1-6 to Merrill and 1-6, 6-1, 1-6 to Wausau East to finish fourth at No. 4 singles.
“Both Morgan and Racheal gave it their all but couldn’t get the key breaks they needed,” Dahl said. “Fourth place in an 18-team tournament is certainly respectable. These two will lead our singles lineup next year, and I have an awful lot of faith in them.”
Dahl said all the players should be proud of the past season, which included second-place finishes in both the final Big Rivers Conference standings and the sectional tournament. Individually, Fall led the Raiders with 29 wins, Karras, Theisen and Fassbinder all had 26, Scharfenberg finished with 24 and Duffy posted 23.
“Overall, the girls are to be commended for a great showing this season,” the coach said.