After NSC meet, area tennis teams now aim for state honors
Konon and Homestead dominate
Having finished up the fourth straight North Shore Conference team title she has been a part of for the Homestead girls tennis team on Oct. 3 and 4 and the fifth overall for the Highlanders, Elizabeth Konon can now start looking at the big picture.
The two-time WIAA State singles champion is trying to lead the Highlanders to a record sixth straight state team title a few weeks from now as well as earn her own historic third state singles title (only three have done it before along with three others who have won four championships). She has yet to settle on a college though many high-level NCAA Division I schools are in the mix. Furthermore, she wants to major in pre-med wherever she does wind up.
In short, this tall, strong, hard-hitting player, who is seen as a perfectionist by both herself and her coach, has got a lot on her mind.
"I don't like missing (points or shots)," she said. "...I always pride myself on being really aggressive and I really want to go for it (at all times). I think my technique has gotten a lot better this season and I think I've become mentally stronger. Winning the Midwest Open (a national tournament) in August really helped."
But she's also seen in a different light by her competitors. Take Whitefish Bay coach Mike Hayes, who reported this comment from his two-time state place-winning daughter Lily, who lost in the first singles' finals to Konon by a 6-1, 6-3 count.
"Lily says that Elizabeth is friendly, funny and filled with good things to say about everybody," he said, "so when we add to that the fact she's a ferocious competitor we see she's one of the many great ambassadors for everything good about tennis in the North Shore Conference."
With that compliment at her back, Konon and her fellow Highlanders cruised through WIAA subsectional play on Monday and were expected to do the same in sectional play at Oconomowoc held on Wednesday. The state individual tournament is Oct. 17-19 and the state team tournament is Oct. 25 and 26.
Coach Jackie Egelhoff feels that Konon and the team are ready for the challenges ahead.
"Everybody has been so enthusiastic," she said. "It's the best team spirit and energy level that I've seen in awhile. It's very high....Winning six North Shore titles is a very big achievement and I was proud of the business-like manner that the kids took to it.
"Everybody knows that this is just a step in the road for us."
The Highlanders won six of seven flights in amassing 94 points for the team title at the North Shore as Konon (22-0), Anna Kreynin (22-1), Alex Talyansky (22-1) and Lexi Heth (15-3) all won singles titles for Homestead as did the first doubles team of Mardee Merar and Katya Mihailanko (25-1) and the third doubles duo of Hannah Goddard and Dasha O'Brien (10-1).
Meanwhile, conference runner-up Nicolet (76 points) and third place Whitefish Bay (72) are trying for strong consolation prizes of their own. They, too, cruised through subsectionals of their own on Monday with Nicolet hosting the sectional that was held on Wednesday.
Nicolet was trying for its third straight state team berth (it was runner-up in 2011 and semifinals in 2012) while Bay was going for its first berth since 2010. The Blue Dukes won two state titles in three years between 2005 and 2007.
Knights coach Tim Koppa, whose second doubles team of Erin Wathen and Josie Docalavich (26-3) was the only tournament entry to break up Homestead's NSC dominance with a flight championship of their own, also feels good about his squad, but also knows that getting back to state won't be easy.
"We played pretty well (at the NSC tourney)," he said. "We lost a couple of close ones that would have made it a great day, but it was still good....It'll be interesting (in sectional). We only beat Bay 4-3 in the dual and it'll be a matter of who plays better that day."
Nina Gerard at second singles (20-9) and the first doubles team of Sara Miller and Michelle Margolies (17-6) also earned runner-up slots in the NSC.
Bay likes outdoor tennis
Coach Hayes felt positive about his team's efforts though because of inclement weather the competition in Friday's final round got moved inside and he said that took a little pop out of his team's step.
"...We took a hit going indoors because we'd rather grind it out on slow courts with the sun and the wind being part of the calculation," he said. "We lost a lot of pageantry, partisanship and vocal fan support that makes outdoor high school tennis so exciting."
Bay made four finals at the NSC, and although the Blue Dukes fell each time, coach Hayes was very pleased with the effort of his doubles' teams.
Gwennie O'Connell (10-5) lost in the finals at fourth singles, as did the second doubles team of Coeli Merrill and Maddie Riedl (6-6) and the third doubles pair of Maggie Bostwick and Megan Coffey (5-3).
Merrill and Riedl scored a very big win when they beat the Homestead pair in the semifinals at second doubles.
"They came off the court on Thursday beaming bright like champs and that's exactly what they are," coach Hayes said.
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