Tennis Cards perform well at state

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s Koji Heinemann performed well at the WIAA Division 1 state meet last weekend./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

They played well throughout the weekend.

They competed hard, and for the most part, held their seeds.

Now, Middleton’s boys tennis team hopes to use its experience at the WIAA Division 1 individual state meet as a springboard to the state team meet this weekend.

The Cardinals sent three singles players and two doubles teams to the individual state tournament last weekend in Eau Claire and had respectable results.

Top singles player Koji Heinemann won a pair of matches, before falling in the round of 16. No. 2 singles player Ian Connell won a match, then lost in the round of 32.

No. 3 singles player Jonathon Kim also won a match, before losing in the round of 32. Middleton’s two doubles teams of Gene Kim and Kieran Gopal, and Anders Clark and Jacob Mandelbrot didn’t get out of the first round.

“I thought all of my players competed hard and played well at the tournament,” Middleton coach Tony Mirasola said.

Heinemann was the No. 12 seed and opened with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Eau Claire Memorial freshman Evan Birkholz. Heinemann then defeated DePere junior Brett Daniels, 6-3, 6-4, to reach the Sweet 16.

Heinemann then fell to Kenosha Indian Trail freshman Kristian Blagoev, 6-1, 6-1. Heinemann finished the year 25-5.

“Koji held his seed and made it to the third round, but ran into another player in Kristian who played unbelievable that day,” Mirasola said. “Koji played well in all three of his matches, but there wasn’t a whole lot you can do when someone plays that well.”

Connell played well himself, opening with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over James Rohrs of Appleton North. Connell then fell to Martin Blagoev of Kenosha Indian Trail — the No. 1 seed in the tournament — 6-1, 6-2, in the second round.

Connell finished his outstanding season 23-2.

“Ian played well and beat a good player in his first round match, then ran into the No. 1 seed and (eventual) state champion,” Mirasola said. “He hung with him tough, but unfortunately he just had a tough draw.”

Jonathon Kim (28-2) opened with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Jace Gilbertson of Menomonie. Kim then lost to Brookfield East freshman Oscar Corwin, 6-3, 6-4.

“Jonny played well too and had a rematch from earlier in the year with Oscar,” Mirasola said. “Unfortunately the result was similar. He battled back in the second set to make it close, but couldn’t quite pull it out.”

Middleton’s top doubles team of Kieran Gopal and Gene Kim (14-8) was edged by Theodore Kotchen and Henry Werner of Neenah, 7-6(3), 6-1.

“Our No. 1 doubles played a good first set against Neenah, but lost a close one in the tiebreaker and then just didn’t play our best tennis in the second set,” Mirasola said. “I saw a lot of good things from both Gene and Kieran, but we just couldn’t seem to win the important points at the right time.”

The Cardinals’ No. 2 doubles team of Clark and Mandelbrot (19-7) withdrew because Clark had a conflict with Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Middleton now heads to the state team tournament this weekend.

The second-seeded Cardinals will open against seventh-seeded Eau Claire Memorial Friday at 3 p.m. at the Menards Tennis Center in Eau Claire. If Middleton wins there, it would likely face third-seeded Marquette in the semifinals Saturday at 9 a.m.

The finals are Saturday afternoon, where top-seeded Brookfield East is a heavy favorite.

“We’re looking forward to competing again at team state,” Mirasola said.


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