Tennis Cardinals headed to state

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Rob Reischel
Ian Connell and Middleton’s boys tennis team qualified for the state team meet June 25-26./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

OCONOMOWOC — The heat was oppressive.

The competition was intense.

Still, nothing could slow down the juggernaut that is Middleton’s boys tennis team.

The Cardinals rolled through the Oconomowoc Sectional on June 9, winning all four singles flights and finishing second in all three doubles flights.

Middleton finished with 50 points to easily outdistance runner-up Arrowhead (36). The Cardinals earned a trip to the WIAA Division 1 state team tournament June 25-26 in Eau Claire and are the No. 2 seed.

Middleton also qualified three singles players and two doubles teams for the individual state tournament that will be held Thursday through Saturday in Eau Claire.

“It was a great day for us,” Middleton coach Tony Mirasola said afterwards. “The first goal is always the team and we accomplished that. And then we had enough players do well that we should be well-represented at individual state.”

They are.

Freshman Koji Heinemann won the No. 1 singles flight at sectionals and is now the No. 12 seed at state. Junior Ian Connell for state qualified after winning the No. 2 singles flight, and sophomore Jonathon Kim received a special qualifier after winning his flight at No. 3 singles.

Middleton’s top doubles team of senior Gene Kim and junior Kieran Gopal qualified after finishing second at sectionals. And the Cardinals’ No. 2 doubles team of senior Anders Clark and junior Jacob Mandelbrot received a special qualifier after placing second at sectionals.

Heineman had an epic sectional semifinal match in which he edged Sussex Hamilton’s Calvin Moore, 5-7, 7-6, 10-8. Waunakee’s Tyler Nelson then defaulted in the title match.

Heineman (23-4) now faces Eau Claire Memorial freshman Evan Birkholz in a first round match Thursday.

“He had a great match in the semifinals (against Moore) and found a way to get it done,” Mirasola said. “Now, we’ll see what he can do at state.”

Connell (22-1) rolled past Sussex Hamilton’s Varun Nuthi, 6-0, 6-3, in title match at sectionals. He’ll now face Appleton North senior James Rohrs (19-6) in a first round match at state Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

“Ian just always comes through for us,” Mirasola said. “No matter where we put him in the lineup, he’s just really great at his job.”

Kim (27-1) cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win over a Waunakee player in the sectional finals. Kim now faces Jace Gilbertson of Menomonie (19-8) in a first round match at state Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

“His only loss has been to a player from (No. 1) Brookfield East,” Mirasola said of Kim. “So we think he can do some damage.”

Middleton sophomore Aarush Gupta (25-0) continued his perfect year by rolling to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Sussex Hamilton’s Aayush Iyengar in the sectional finals.

Hartland Arrowhead won all three doubles flights at sectionals, but the Cardinals reached the finals in every flight. That accomplished two things.

First, it gave Middleton plenty of points to win the sectional. Second, it helped the Cardinals land two doubles team at individual state.

Middleton’s top team of Kim and Gopal fell in the sectional title match to Arrowhead’s Sam Kredell and Nick Tiahnybik, 6-1, 6-1. Kredell and Tiahnybik (24-0) are now the No. 1 seed at state, while Kim and Gopal (14-7) open against Theodore Kotchen and Henry Werner (23-4) of Neenah Thursday afternoon.

Clark and Mandelbrot reached the finals at No. 2 doubles, but fell to Arrowhead’s Ben Brandel and Alex Deubel, 6-0, 6-1. Clark and Mandelbrot (19-6) now open against Mukwonago juniors Andrew LaBelle and Ryan LaBelle (25-3) at state Thursday.

And at No. 3 doubles, Arrowhead’s Carter Bailey and Christian Carter held on for a 6-0, 5-7, 10-8 win over Middleton’s Franklin Hu and Saketh Peddireddy.

“We played pretty well at doubles,” Mirasola said. “Arrowhead’s loaded there, but I was happy the way our guys played.”

Now, Middleton’s attention turns to the second season.

The Cardinals have a chance to make some noise at individual state this weekend. And Middleton is among the favorites at team state next weekend.

The second-seeded Cardinals will open at team state against seventh-seeded Eau Claire Memorial June 25 at 3 p.m. If Middleton wins there, it would likely face third-seeded Marquette in the semifinals.

Top-seeded Brookfield East is a heavy favorite, but Mirasola knows upsets happen every day.

“If we play our best (at team state), anything is possible,” Mirasola said. “But after losing our season last year (to COVID), this is just exciting for all the guys.”



Team scores: Middleton 50; Hartland Arrowhead 36; Waunakee 30; Sussex Hamilton 26; Oconomowoc 23; Hartford 13; Reedsburg 10; Wales Kettle Moraine 7; Baraboo 6; Portage 6; DeForest 4; Pewaukee 4; Sauk Prairie 2; Madison East 0.

Automatic state qualifiers: Middleton 3; Hartland Arrowhead 2; Waunakee 2; Hartford 1; Oconomowoc 1; Sussex Hamilton 1.

No. 1 singles — Heineman, Mid, def. Nelson, Wau, default. Third place — Hoffmann, Hfd, def. Moore, SH, default. Semifinals — Nelson def. Hoffmann, 6-1, 6-0; Heineman def. Moore, 5-7, 7-6, 10-8. Quarterfinals — Nelson def. Castillo, Pew, 6-0, 6-1; Hoffmann def. Buss, Ree, 6-1, 6-1; Heineman def. Russell, Oc, 6-1, 6-1; Moore def. Davies, Bar, 6-0, 6-0.

No. 2 singles — Connell, Mid, def. Nuthi, SH, 6-0, 6-3. Third place — Long, HA, def. Collins, W, 6-2, 6-2. Semifinals — Connell, Mid, def. Long, 6-1, 6-2; Nuthi def. Collins, 6-2, 6-2.

No. 3 singles — Kim, Mid, def. Christian, Wau, 6-1, 6-1. Third place — Heyroth, WKM, def. Bursinger, Oc, 6-0, 6-2. Semifinals — Kim def. Heyroth, 6-1, 6-1; Christian def. Bursinger, 6-2, 6-1.

No. 4 singles — Gupta, Mid, def. Iyengar, SH, 6-1, 6-0. Third place — Brunner, HA, def. Liu, Wau, 6-1, 6-0. Semifinals — Gupta def. Brunner, 6-3, 6-0; Iyengar def. Liu, 6-0, 6-2.

No. 1 doubles — Kredell/Tiahnybik, HA, def. Kim/Gopal, Mid, 6-1, 6-1. Third place — Holahan/Wolf, Oc, def. Pellechia/Hoff, SH, 6-3, 6-1. Semifinals — Kim/Gopal def. Wolf/Holahan, 6-3, 6-4; Kredell/Tiahnybik def. Pellechia/Hoff, 6-2, 6-2. Quarterfinals — Kim/Gopal def. Everts/Hoffmann, Hfd, 6-3, 6-0; Wolf/Holahan def. Woodruff/Ellifson, Ree, 6-0, 6-0; Pellechia/Hoff def. Pulvermacher/Christian, Wau, 6-3, 6-2; Kredell/Tiahnybik def. Nachtigal/Koeser, 6-0, 6-0.

No. 2 doubles — Deubel/Brandel, HA, def. Mandelbrot/Clark, Mid, 6-0, 6-1. Third place — Fall/Huelhorst, Oc, def. Dettor/Schmalz, Wau, 6-2, 6-1. Semifinals — Mandelbrot/Clark def. Gall/Huelhorst, 6-2, 7-5; Deubel/Brandel def. Schmalz/Dettor, 6-2, 6-0.

No. 3 doubles — Bailey/Carter, HA, def. Hu/Peddireddy, Mid, 6-0, 5-7, 10-8. Third place — Rohde/Kozinski, Oc, def. Zimbric/Wipperfurth, Wau, 6-2, 6-4. Semifinals — Hu/Peddireddy def. Rohde/Kozinski, 6-1, 6-2; Bailey/Carter def. Zimbric/Wipperfurth, 6-1, 6-2.


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