The Waterford High School boys tennis team has the experience and the expertise to be one of the best teams in Racine County this season.
Led by seniors Sam and Josh Fay, who qualified for the WIAA Division 1 State Championships in doubles last season, the Wolverines have some great expectations: To contend for a Southern Lakes Conference title and qualify for the state team tournament.
“I see the team in the top half of the conference again this year and we will most likely have a separate nonconference lineup to see if that increases our chances of getting a position to play in the state tournament again,” Waterford coach Mike Schuster said. “The team will also have another challenging nonconference schedule this season.”
Other county schools that could be competitive this season include Horlick, Union Grove, Prairie and St. Catherine’s.
Here are capsule previews of the eight Racine County teams:
COACH: Maureen Asfeld, 10th season.
LAST SEASON: 2-5 in SEC dual meets, seventh at SEC tournament, fifth at Division 1 Westosha Central Subsectional, tied for 10th at Mukwonago Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Henry Main, Haeden Ford, Will Moes. Juniors — Jaxon Ford, Hubert Smielecki. Sophomores — Keng Xiong, Connor Mills.
OUTLOOK: Asfeld calls this “a building year” for the Eagles, but predicts improvement over the course of the season. Case will rely on Main, who made it to sectionals last year, plus the doubles team of Jaxon Ford and Smielecki.
Asfeld expects Haeden Ford and Moes to provide “an extra dimension” as versatile players in their third year. She also has high hopes for returning players Keng Xiong and Connor Mills.
COACHES: Jake Berce, second season.
LAST SEASON: 6-5 in dual meets (4-3 SEC), fourth at conference tournament, sixth at Division 1 Westosha Central Subsectional, 14th at Mukwonago Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Senior — Sean Steinbach. Junior — Joey Abel. Sophomores — David Stephan, Aaron Antreassian.
OUTLOOK: Antreassian made massive strides from his freshman season and is poised to make a run at state this year, despite being just a sophomore, Berce said.
“Aaron has an expectation to make it to state,” Berce said. “He’s off to a great start this year and all the guys are improving and having fun.”
COACHES: Pamela Dwyer and Jalina Wilhelmi (second season for both).
LAST SEASON: 0-7 in SEC dual meets, eighth at conference tournament, seventh at Division 1 Westosha Central Subsectional, 14th at Mukwonago Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Daniel Ruiz, Isaac Wilson. Junior — Benjamin Granger. Sophomore — James Sisk.
OUTLOOK: The Panthers lost five seniors from last season, so Dwyer and Wilhelmi said this is a rebuilding year. They are intrigued by newcomers Josh Abel and Jephrey Valliere.
SOUTHERN LAKES CONFERENCE
COACH: Ken Savaglia, 22nd season.
LAST SEASON: 3-12 in dual meets (3-4 SLC), sixth at SLC tournament, fifth at Division 1 Badger Subsectional, fifth at Mukwonago Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Senior — Malik Tiedt. Juniors — Quinn Adamek, Leo Puntillo, Tommy Martin. Sophomore — Max Meier.
OUTLOOK: Tiedt was a sectional qualifier at No. 1 doubles last year, but it now looks like he will be in the No. 1 singles spot. Savaglia said Tiedt will switch over to doubles when needed, but he is still working on finding Tiedt a partner.
“As far as this season goes, we would love to get a few more wins over last year,” Savaglia said. “We have lost some of the varsity depth we had, but we should be able to compete with some teams.”
Union Grove Broncos
COACH: Mike Brannen, 14th season
LAST SEASON: 2-5 in SLC dual meets, fifth at conference tournament, fourth at Division 1 Badger Subsectional, fourth at Mukwonago Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Senior — Drake Miller. Juniors — Ethan Squires, Tommy Hempel, Mickey Rewolinski. Sophomore — Reid Fredrickson.
OUTLOOK: Brannen sees Miller and Squires playing together at No. 1 doubles and being competitive in the SLC. Fredrickson spent the offseason improving his game and Brannen said he will play singles.
“We are deeper than last season and I think we can have a really good season this year,” Brannen said.
COACH: Mike Schuster, 24th season.
LAST SEASON: 6-7 in dual meets (4-3 SLC), fourth at conference tournament, sixth at Division 1 Badger Subsectional, sixth at Mukwonago Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Sam Fay, Josh Fay, Ethan Brannen, Jason Splitgerber, Isaiah Bergstedt, Michael Bose, Jack DeGreef, Drew DeGreef, Max Engel, Joe Scianni.
OUTLOOK: All the returning letterwinners will be a big part of the Wolverines’ success, Schuster said. Sam and Josh Fay split time last season playing doubles and qualified for the Division 1 State tournament.
“The line up will be different this year, but many players have had success on the varsity level in their careers,” Schuster said. “We will have a lot of depth which will create competition for the top 10 spots.”
METRO CLASSIC CONFERENCE
COACH: Nich Schafer, third season.
LAST SEASON: 11-4 in dual meets (5-0 MCC), first at conference tournament, second at Division 2 Prairie Subsectional, 11th at Brown Deer Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Pranav Bajaj, Nicholas Ruffo, Anthony Babu, Gabe Perez. Junior — Finn Chilsen. Sophomore — Kethan Bajaj.
OUTLOOK: “The boys are looking forward to competing for the MCC championship as well the county championship,” Schafer said.
The Hawks will have the most experience at their singles spots with Pranav Bajaj, Ruffo, Kethan Bejaj leading the way. Newcomer Joseph Morales is also set to make an impact, Schafer said.
St. Catherine’s/Lutheran Angels
COACH: Dave Mooney, third season.
LAST SEASON: 1-6 in MCC dual meets, sixth in conference tournament, seventh at Division 2 Prairie Subsectional, 16th at Brown Deer Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Senior — Dan Weir. Juniors — Ethan Woitach, Sam French, Connor Petricek, Zach Cotter, Caleb Chernouski.
OUTLOOK: Mooney is optimistic that Woitach has what it takes to make a run at the state tournament this season.
“Ethan is a great player and I’m looking for a solid season from him this year,” Mooney said. “He has continued to improve over his time here and things are looking positive for the team.”