Tennis Cardinals swing for greatness

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Rafael Sanga (left) and Sam Dettman (right) are hoping for big things at the state tennis tournament, which begins Thursday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Ryan Gold was optimistic.

But Middleton’s junior tennis standout admittedly had almost no idea where he’d be seeded for this week’s WIAA Division 1 individual state tournament.

“I’m thinking like (No.) 8 or 9 maybe,” Gold said the day before seeds were released. “I should get a seed. I’m just not sure where.”

Try No. 3.

Gold received the No. 3 seed in the 56-player tournament. Gold received a first round bye and meets the winner of Kenosha Indian Trail freshman Martin Blagoev (17-4) and Nicolet junior Ben Chester (22-8) Thursday at approximately 4 p.m.

Gold could have two matches Friday, and if he plays to his seed, he’ll advance to the state semifinals Saturday at 9 a.m. The championship match would be Saturday afternoon.

“I wasn't expecting a (No. 3) and I don't think Ryan was either,” Middleton coach Kalla Schaefer said. “I am excited for Ryan. It is a great opportunity for him.”

Gold isn't the only Cardinal with a golden opportunity this weekend. 

Middleton senior Rafael Sanga and junior Sam Dettman (18-5) received the No. 7 seed on the doubles’ side. Sanga and Dettman have a first round bye, then will have their first match Friday at 10:15 a.m.

Sanga and Dettman could have as many as three matches Friday. If things go well, the doubles semifinals are Saturday at 9:45 a.m., with the title match later Saturday afternoon.

“We just want to play to the best of our ability and give it our best shot,” Sanga said. “I think it’s definitely possible to make a really good run.”

Middleton senior Adam Schiebler and junior Brandon Bodak (18-4) also earned a spot at state. Schiebler and Bodak open with Appleton North senior Deepak Vir and sophomore Surya Vir (16-6) Thursday at 3 p.m.

“I think our singles and doubles players can go really far,” Schaefer said. “The field is a lot closer and more wide-open than it’s been in years past. There are 10 (doubles) teams within a breath of each other.”

Middleton was hoping to qualify for the state team tournament June 8-9. But the Cardinals fell narrowly short at the Verona Sectional on May 23.

Verona, which won the Big Eight dual meet and conference tournament, edged runner-up Middleton, 39-36, for a trip to team state.

“Our goal as a team was to beat Verona,” Dettman said. “We came up just a bit short.”

Gold finished second at No. 1 singles at sectionals and earned a trip to state. Gold notched a highly impressive 6-1, 6-3 win over Madison Memorial’s Colt Tegtmeier in the semifinals, before dropping a straight sets match to Verona’s Will Tennison in the finals.

Showing the talent and depth that resides in the Big Eight Conference this season, Tennison is now the No. 1 seed at state, while Tegtmeier is No. 2. And there’s a distinct possibility that Gold could meet Tegtmeier in the state semifinals and Tennison in the finals.

Dettman and Sanga cruised to the sectional title at No. 1 doubles, while Schiebler and Bodak did the same at No. 2. Middleton’s No. 3 doubles team of Alton Yan and Gene Kim also won the sectional title, but didn’t earn a berth to state.

“The sectional was so close, it was a match here or there that decided it,” Schaefer said. “But Verona is really good in singles and give them credit. It was a great battle.”

Gold is excited about the battles that await him.

A year ago. Gold won his opening match at state, then lost in the second round. Clearly, expectations have changed.

“My mentality coming into the season was to get better and not just to be another guy who’s playing at No. 1 singles,” Gold said. “I got sick of taking my lumps last year.”

Gold has given far more lumps than he’s received this time around.

Gold has held his own against the top players in the Big Eight — and the state. He’s cruised past players ranked and seeded below him.

And his impressive résumé helped him receive a terrific seed at state.

“Ryan doesn’t have any bad losses,” Schaefer said. “And then he had a really good win over Colt (Tegtmeier of Memorial). He can do some damage.”

Gold feels the same way.

“I’m ready,” Gold said. “I might be a little nervous at the start, but I’m ready.”

Sanga and Dettman are ready themselves.

Middleton’s standouts, who are playing together for a second consecutive season, reached the third round of the state tournament last year. There, Dettman and Sanga fell to a Milwaukee Marquette duo that eventually won the state title.

The field appears to be far more level this year, which gives Sanga and Dettman hope of achieving big things.

“We just want to go out in style,” Dettman said.

Style is a big reason for Dettman and Sanga’s success together. The duo plays very similar games, communicates extremely well and complements each other like an old, married couple.

“We’re pretty similar players,” Sanga said. “I think we both have really good movement and complement each other really well. We know each other, know each others games and I think we’re even better this year than last year.”

Dettman agreed.

“When it comes to doubles, it’s not all about true skill,” Dettman said. “A huge part of it is chemistry and we have great chemistry. We have good tactics and know what to call and when. I’ve always loved doubles, and Raf and I just clicked right away.”

Added Schaefer: “The great thing about those two is they feed off of each other. They know each other so well and they’ve really been in a rhythm.”

Middleton’s players are all hoping to be in rhythm this week.

If they are, it could be a memorable state tournament for the Cardinals.


May 23

Verona Sectional

Team scores: Verona 39; Middleton 36; Madison West 28; Oregon 24; Madison Memorial 23; Milton 20; Janesville Craig 16; Stoughton 11; Monona Grove 8; Fort Atkinson 4; Janesville Parker 4; Beloit Memorial 2; Madison La Follette 2; Madison East 0.

No. 1 singles — Championship: Tennison, V, def. Gold, Mid, 6-2, 6-0. Third place: Tegtmeier, MM, def. Poland, MW, 6-0, 6-3. Semifinals: Gold def. Tegtmeier, 6-1, 6-3; Tennison def. Poland, 6-0, 6-0. Quarterfinals: Tegtmeier def. Meyer, Sto, 6-0, 6-0; Gold def. Richard, Milt, 6-0, 6-1; Tennison def. Kisting, JP, 6-0, 6-0; Poland def. Bitter, JC, 6-0, 6-0.

No. 2 singles — Championship: Glasgow, MW, def. Queoff, V, 6-3, 6-4. Third place: Benoy, Sto, def. Roskos, Or, 6-1, 6-3. Semifinals: Queoff def. Roskos, 6-1, 6-2; Glasgow def. Benoy, 6-0, 6-0.

No. 3 singles — Championship: Fan, V, def. Gallagher, MW, 7-6 (1), 6-4. Third place: Hake, Or, def. Hanel, JC, 1-6, 6-2, 7-5. Semifinals: Fan def. Hanel, 6-0, 6-0; Gallagher def. Hake, 6-2, 6-1.

No. 4 singles — Championship: Nagpal, V, def. Weinbach, MM, 7-6 (2), 6-3. Third place: Benet, Or, def. Sullivan, JF, 6-2, 7-5. Semifinals: Nagpal def. Benet, 6-1, 6-0; Weinbach def. Sullivan, 6-0, 6-0.

No. 1 doubles — Championship: Dettman/Sanga, Mid, def. Willauer/Ruggiero, MW, 6-1, 7-6 (5). Third place: Swaminath/Hutchcroft, V, def. Munz/Nelson, MG, 6-1, 6-0. Semifinals: Dettman/Sanga def. Munz/Nelson, 7-6 (4), 6-3; Willauer/Ruggiero def. Swaminath/Hutchcroft, 6-1, 1-6, 6-1. Quarterfinals:Dettman/Sanga def. Eno/Klementz, JC, 6-0, 6-0; Munz/Nelson def. Boden/Garcia, Milt, 6-2, 6-0; Willauer/Ruggiero def. Jaime/Brown, FA, 6-1, 6-1; Swaminath/Hutchcroft def. Rehrauer/Koopman, Or, 6-2, 6-3.

No. 2 doubles — Championship: Schiebler/Bodak, Mid, def. Puglielli/Sandireddy, MM, 6-3, 6-3. Third place: Harvatine/Grote, Milt, def. Ayers/Meyers, Or, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5. Semifinals: Schiebler/Bodak def. Ayers/Meyers, 6-1, 6-0; Puglielli/Sandireddy def. Harvatine/Grote, 6-0, 7-5.

No. 3 doubles — Championship: Kim/Yan, Mid, def. Green/Barquin, MM, 6-0, 6-3. Third place:Miller/Labakken, Milt, def. Hessler/Kritsch, Or, 6-2, 6-2. Semifinals: Kim/Yan def. Hessler/Kritsch, 6-1, 6-0; Green/Barquin def. Miller/Labakken, 6-1, 6-0.

No. 1 doubles — Championship: Chityala/Pavelic, Gra, def. Jugilanis/Gerber, ET. Third place: McShane/Sutor, McF, def. Theis/Bertler, PW.


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