Tennis Cardinals thinking big

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Rob Reischel
Xavier Sanga and Middleton's boys tennis team have high hopes this season./File photo

The pieces still need to be assembled.

Lineup positioning will be determined in the days ahead.

When that happens, Middleton’s boys tennis team believes big things are in store in 2017.

Middleton begins its season Tuesday at Sun Prairie. And the Cardinals have high hopes that great things await.

“This team has a strong tennis background, with players who train year-round and work on their games in the offseason,” Middleton first-year coach Kalla Schaefer said. “They are coachable and enthusiastic. My main concern right now is getting a lineup set.”

Middleton returns seven players who were part of last year’s team that reached the semifinals of the WIAA Division 1 state team tournament.

Senior Xavier Sanga played No. 1 singles last year, while sophomore Ryan Gold played No. 2 and junior Haiwen Dai was No. 4. In doubles action, senior Mason Pyle and junior Rafael Sanga played No. 2, while seniors Colin Hogedorn and sophomore Sam Dettman played No. 3.

“This is an experienced team,” Schaefer said.

Xavier Sanga reached the round of 16 at the individual state tournament, while Gold also reached the state tournament. In doubles play, Rafael Sanga and Pyle won a match at the individual state meet.

Dai also won a Big Eight Conference singles title last year, while Hogedorn and Dettman did the same in doubles action.

With all of that returning talent, hopes will be extremely high in 2017.

“Our team is off to a good start,” Schaefer said. “Already in tryouts players were supporting each other and pulling for each other. There were players who were competing for spots who lost, but were still gracious and supportive of their teammates. They all want to see their teammates play to the best of their ability.

“I'm excited to see the energy and desire to improve that players have brought to practice. Several players have come up to me in the first couple of days to ask what they should be working on in their game.”

Sophomore Alton Yan, along with juniors Kunwarjit Singh and Nitin Somasundaram all figure to contribute this year. And once Schafer sets her lineup, she believes big things are in store for these Cardinals.

“We are looking to defend our conference title and sectional titles,” she said. “This team worked hard in the offseason and is continually striving to improve. They enjoy the game and pull for each other as a team. I’m excited for the season!”

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