AP NEWS

Prep girls tennis preview: Madison Edgewood on mission to repeat as Division 2 champion

August 23, 2016 GMT

AREA RANKINGS

1, Madison Edgewood; 2, Madison West; 3, Middleton; 4, Waunakee; 5, Madison Memorial.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH

Crusaders seek repeat: Madison Edgewood earned the WIAA Division 2 team state title last year. “As the defending state champions, the girls wish to make a statement this year and repeat,” Edgewood coach Tod Lacey said. Stoughton coach Ryan Reischel said Edgewood is very deep. “Emma Sango and Jessica Inman are outstanding singles players,” Reischel said. “The doubles (lineup) is as deep as any team in the area.” The Crusaders opened the season ranked No. 1 in Division 2, according to the Wisconsin High School Tennis Coaches Association rankings.

Regents on the rise: Madison West finished second in Big Eight Conference dual season behind Middleton and third at the league tournament last year. The Regents hope to challenge perennial power Middleton for the top spot. “Madison West may have the strongest team in the conference this year due to all of the returning players they have at the top of their lineup,” Madison Memorial coach Joseph King said. The Regents were ranked No. 3 in Division 1.

Sun Prairie singles players take one step up: Sun Prairie edged Middleton for the Big Eight tournament title last season. Sun Prairie also advanced to Division 1 team state for the first time last season. No. 1 singles player Dao Sysouvanh, the Big Eight player of the year and Division 1 individual state runner-up, has graduated. Her sister, junior Lats Sysouvanh, moves up to No. 1 singles, while senior Julia Hernesman and junior Katie Tews also return and move up the singles ladder for the Cardinals.

Making a move: Madison Memorial, led by singles player Ingrid Goldstrand, has received a jolt of talent from freshmen Grace Olson and Julia Zhou. “I expect our team to improve a bit from last year and hope to be in the top three in the conference,” King said.

Waunakee reloads: Waunakee advanced to the WIAA Division 1 team state tournament for the first time last year, topping Middleton in the sectional to get there. The Warriors again should be the toast of the Badger North Conference, despite losing six letterwinners. “I’d expect once we figure out where players fit in and what works best for the team, we’ll be very tough to play like last year,” Waunakee coach Chris Nuenthel said.

TEN PLAYERS TO WATCH

Karolina Lungova, sr., Madison West: Lungova, who moved to Madison from the Czech Republic before her freshman year, advanced to the second round at WIAA Division 1 individual state tournament for the second consecutive season in 2015. She was champion at No. 1 singles in a sectional played at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.

Sarah Benoy, sr., Stoughton: Benoy was the Badger Conference tournament champion at No. 1 singles last year. She was seeded 12th at Division 1 state, but was upset in the first round.

Emma Sango, sr., Madison Edgewood: Sango endured back pain during the season and placed fourth in singles at the Division 2 individual state tournament. She played No. 1 singles for Edgewood, which won the Division 2 state team title.

Maddie Molitor, sr., and Abby Fox, sr., Madison Edgewood: Molitor and Fox finished second in doubles at the Division 2 individual state tournament. They return as a team this season.

Lats Sysouvanh, jr., Sun Prairie: Sysouvanh advanced to Division 1 individual state last year after winning the No. 2 singles title at the sectional in Stoughton. She will play No. 1 singles for the Cardinals this season, replacing her sister, Dao, who was a senior in 2015.

Jessica Inman, sr., Madison Edgewood: Inman advanced to Division 2 individual state last year. She played No. 2 singles for the Crusaders, though she also played No. 1 singles when Sango was sidelined. That likely will occur this year, too.

Bailey Chorney, sr., Waunakee: Chorney and Bobbi Stricker placed fifth in doubles at Division 1 individual state in 2015. With Stricker having graduated, Chorney will have a new partner. She was teamed with Autumn Facktor when the season began.

Amanda Schuster, jr., Waunakee: Schuster moved up from No. 3 singles to the No. 1 spot for Waunakee, which advanced to Division 1 team state in 2015.

Amanda Newman, jr., Monona Grove: Newman, the Silver Eagles’ top singles player the last two years, advanced to the Division 1 state tournament in her first two seasons.

Sydney Davis, sr., Milton: Davis enters her fourth season as the Red Hawks’ No. 1 singles player.

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS

BIG EIGHT

Middleton was the Big Eight dual champion last season, but had its string of five consecutive league tournament titles snapped by Sun Prairie. The Cardinals had a strong doubles lineup, led by WIAA Division 1 individual state champions Abbey Webber and Kaisey Skibba. This season, the Cardinals will be led by sophomores Kai Heineman (expected to play No. 1 singles) and Michelle Chi (No. 2 singles). The doubles lineup will be led by senior Ally Hujanen and sophomore Maddie Clark (No. 1 doubles) and seniors Jessica Wang and Shanna Wiegand (No. 2 doubles). The Cardinals were ranked No. 9 in Division 1.

After a second-place finish to Middleton in the Big Eight dual season last year, Madison West, coached by Kyle Goodman, has nine starters returning. Karolina Lungova, a sectional champion who advanced to the second round at the WIAA Division 1 individual state tournament, leads the way at No. 1 singles. Ellie Kaji, Spencer Harrison and Nyah Banik could give West a formidable singles lineup. The doubles lineup looks good, too, with Hoi Ming Lee McVey and Laura Nicholas returning at No. 1 doubles for the third straight year. Olivia Berns and Olivia O’Dea return after playing No. 2 doubles together last year.

Madison Memorial has six starters returning in a program that has almost 80 players. The Spartans started the season with a strong showing at the Dane County Invitational, claiming the team title and earning top finishes from freshman Grace Olson at No. 2 singles, freshman Julia Zhou at No. 3 singles, Kristina Shirley at No. 4 singles and Jessica Liu and Devika Kamath at No. 1 doubles. Anna Hubbard and Anna Goldstrand are set to play No. 2 doubles, King said.

Chris Wilke takes over as the Sun Prairie coach, replacing Katie Weyer. “We expect to compete to win the conference title,” Wilke said. “We are working very hard to get back to team state.” Lats Sysouvanh, a junior, started the season strong with the No. 1 singles title at the Dane County Invitational. “We have a very strong singles lineup led by Lats Sysouvanh, Julia Hernesman and Katie Tews,” Wilke said. Others in Wilke’s lineup will include freshman Kaia Feldman, seniors Payton Siehr, Simrin Sandhu and Lauren Giese and juniors Nina Boals and Linnea Zernov.

Verona coach Mark Happel has six starters returning, but must replace his No. 1 and No. 2 singles players and the No. 1 doubles team of Greta Schmitz and Lauren Supanich. “We will need our returning varsity players to lead a very young team,” Happel said. “I hope that we can compete for an upper half spot in the very strong Big Eight Conference.” Happel said he will look to some incoming freshmen to bolster the lineup, and freshmen Meredith Conley (No. 1 singles) and Meghan Samz (No. 4) were playing in early season meets. Kayla Johnson, a junior, is the lone returning two-year letterwinner. The Wildcats also will count on seniors Emma Furniss and Sigal Felber and sophomores Meghan Anderson, Eve Parker and Allison Blessing.

Coach Steve Mickelson’s Janesville Craig team has a solid singles lineup, including Maycee Maslonka, and will hope to challenge the top teams.

Madison La Follette coach Nan Perschon enters her 26th season and has eight starters returning. Perschon said senior No. 1 singles player Abbi Mullen has improved her consistency and power on her ground strokes. Juniors Jenni Littel, Genna Hayes and Angie Blechl will be key contributors in singles. “With eight letterwinners returning, we hope to draw on that experience and win more conference matches than last year (3-6 in duals in 2015),” Perschon said.

Janesville Parker, Madison East and Beloit Memorial will look to improve. Jonathan Lauer is fired-up about his Janesville Parker team. “I am taking over a team that has 12 seniors and my expectations are pretty high,” Lauer said. “We will be ready for a great season.”

BADGER SOUTH

Tod Lacey enters his second season as Madison Edgewood’s coach, with the Crusaders the reigning WIAA Division 2 team state champion. Six starters return for Edgewood, also the seven-time defending Badger South champion. Seniors Emma Sango, Jessica Inman and Brita Hovde give Edgewood three strong singles players. Seniors Maddie Molitor and Abby Fox likely will play No. 1 doubles again, after finishing second at individual state last year.

Stoughton, which finished second in the Badger South in 2015, hopes to challenge Madison Edgewood for the league crown. The Vikings had nine letterwinners and six starters returning, but No. 1 doubles player Payton Kahl will miss the season with a torn ACL in her right knee. Senior Sarah Benoy will lead Stoughton from her No. 1 singles spot. “We are going to be right at the top of the conference again,” Stoughton coach Ryan Reischel said. “We are still chasing Madison Edgewood for the top spot. They will be very strong.”

Amanda Newman and Hailey Munz are expected to lead the Monona Grove lineup.

Senior Sydney Davis will lead coach Dan Thies’ Milton team from her No. 1 singles spot. Doubles players Bethany Crandall and Faith Dittmann are on pace to be four-year letterwinners. The Red Hawks have seven starters returning. “We should be strong with seven seniors returning,” Thies said. “Edgewood will win again, but we hope to finish near the top of the Badger South Conference.”

Costin Fink is the new coach at Oregon. Fink “will help bring the program back around,” Reischel said.

Fort Atkinson coach Mike DeRubeis, in his 12th season, has four starters returning. Senior Emma Hartwig will serve as a captain.

Monroe coach Brad Saugstad’s team lost six seniors from a year ago and will be young. But the Cheesemakers return four starters and will hope to move up from last season’s sixth-place Badger South finish. “We had a significant number of girls putting in time on the courts during the offseason, so even with the departures, I feel that we will have the potential to have a stronger team than last season,” Saugstad said. Freshman Grace Tostrud earned the No. 1 singles spot, while junior Maggie Setterstrom, who has played doubles, will start off at No. 2 singles, Saugstad said. Junior Ashley Placek should be a key contributor.

BADGER NORTH

Waunakee, led by coach Chris Nuenthel, was the overall Badger Conference champion for the third consecutive season and the Badger North champ for the sixth straight year. The Warriors qualified for the WIAA Division 1 team state for the first time and advanced to the semifinals. Four starters return, but Nuenthel has talent coming up from last year’s JV ranks. Amanda Schuster is expected to lead the Warriors’ singles lineup, while Bailey Chorney, Autumn Facktor and Kailey Ziegler should be top doubles players. Chorney and Facktor were teamed together early this season, while Ziegler played No. 2 doubles with Olivia Austria-Kemble.

Reedsburg coach John Brandt has seven starters returning and believes the team’s strength will be in singles. Senior Morgan Rabuck returns at No. 1 singles, while junior Grace Colvin is back at No. 2 singles. Senior Jenna Greenwood is another key player for Reedsburg. “We should be similar to last year. … a .500 team,” Brandt said. “We are hoping to place fourth in the Badger North. We will need to find depth in doubles to do this.”

DeForest (led by Cecile Fuchs), Baraboo, Sauk Prairie and Portage also will be in the hunt, chasing Waunakee.

AROUND THE AREA

Lodi has 10 letterwinners returning, including eight starters, and coach Joe Birkholz believes that experience will help the Blue Devils demonstrate improvement in the Capitol Conference. “We are pushing to reclaim the conference title after missing out the past two seasons,” he said. Junior Sierra Furger is expected to play No. 1 singles. Juniors Alex and Anya Armbrust and seniors Hannah Hargis and Allison Winters should be two of the doubles teams. … Watertown Luther Prep, coming off a good season in the Capitol, lost nine letterwinners and has one starter back. Senior Rachel Schewe leads the way, likely at No. 1 singles. “We should have a competitive team this year despite graduating nine varsity players,” Timothy Wrobel said. “We have a solid junior varsity program that feeds into our varsity.” … Singles player Kendra Wendt should lead McFarland in the Rock Valley.

POSTSEASON WATCH

WIAA subsectionals: Sept. 30, Oct. 3 and 4.

WIAA sectionals: Oct. 5 and 6.

WIAA individual state tournament: Oct. 13-15, Nielsen Tennis Stadium.

WIAA team state tournament: Oct. 21 and 22, Nielsen Tennis Stadium.