MHS' boys tennis team thinking big

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Ryan Gold and Middleton's boys tennis team have great expectations this spring./File photo

For the majority of this century, Middleton’s boys tennis team has been a fixture at the state team tennis tournament.

The Cardinals have been to the state team tournament 11 times since 2000. And in that time, Middleton has four state runner-up finishes to its credit.

The Cardinals failed to reach the state meet last year, finishing third at the Waunakee Sectional. But with a deep and gifted squad coming back, Middleton has its sights set on another trip to state this spring.

Middleton is scheduled to begin its year Friday at Milwaukee Marquette.

“In order for us to have a chance to win conference and sectionals and advance to team state everyone has to pull their weight,” said Middleton second-year coach Kalla Schaefer. “No spot is a given win, because of how tight the top conference teams all are. No one can count on other spots to get the win because when those deciding matches come at 3-3 that could be at any spot.”

Middleton junior Ryan Gold returns at No. 1 singles. Gold went 16-6 last season and won a match at individual state, before losing in the second round.

“Ryan is quick, uses his forehand well as a major weapon and fights hard,” Schaefer said of Gold.

Junior Brandon Bodak, an Illinois state qualifier last season who transferred to MHS this year, will be an important contributor. Hard-hitting freshman Gene Kim has a big serve and powerful groundstrokes, while senior Nitin Somasundaram played No. 4 singles last year.

On the doubles side, senior Rafael Sanga and junior Sam Dettman return at No. 1. That duo won a pair of matches at state last year and seem poised for even bigger and better this spring.

“Raf and Sam have great team chemistry, are both tough competitors and their games are a good fit as a team,” Schaefer said. “They have been working in the offseason and are in a good place to have successful seasons.”

The rest of the lineup remains in flux. But the challengers for playing time include seniors Haiwen Dai, Adam Schiebler and Kunwarjit Singh, sophomores Jorden Cheng and Alton Yan, and sophomore Akshay Kelshiker.

“Line-ups are still a work in progress as we try some combinations out and see how our new players fit in over the next couple of weeks,” Schaefer said.

Verona won the Big Eight Conference a year ago and returns its entire lineup.

“They are probably the favorite to win conference, but there are several schools right there with them,” Schaefer said.

Madison West defeated Verona at sectionals and reached the state semifinals. Sun Prairie was second in the league last year and returns the overwhelming majority of its team, while Madison Memorial also has a veteran group back and is also expected to make some noise.

“Our goal, as I think all five of these conference schools would say, is to try and win conference and qualify for team state,” Schaefer said. “We have great team camaraderie at Middleton. Players give each other a lot of encouragement and support. All five of these teams will be battling it out.”

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