August 28, 2012 | 04:37 PMIt will be a season of new, old faces for the Badger girls tennis squad this fall.
Paul Lauterbach, who coached Badger tennis for 17 seasons before leaving to help open Four Lakes Athletic Club 10 years ago, is back at the helm for the local netters. He will coach both the girls and boys varsity teams. Lauterbach replaces long-time coach Marty Badt, who led the girls the past 10 years.
"Coaching is one of my favorite things to do," Lauterbach said. "The timing was right, and the opportunity was there. Badger was my school of choice, and it worked out real well."
Lauterbach has been a tennis teaching professional for 33 years. His daughter, Maggie, was a star player for Big Foot, and his son, Sebastian, is a junior with the Big Foot boys tennis team. Paul's wife, Becky, has played USTA state league tennis.
"In some form, tennis is part of our everyday life," Lauterbach said.
The other new, old face to this year's team is junior Cricket Geldermann, a tennis sensation who advanced to the final 16 at state as a freshman. She didn't play with the team last year because she played in tournaments around the country.
"She is a strong, physical player," Lauterbach said. "With the number of matches she has played since her freshman year, she is a more seasoned player."
Lauterbach inherits a team that was second in the Southern Lakes Conference a year ago. With roughly 50 kids out for the program, he wants to go into the season with a clean slate.
"I have asked the coaches that I work with not to tell me about the previous years and who played what and with whom," Lauterbach said. "I wanted to take a look with fresh eyes and without expectations and base the lineup on ability, ability to learn and work ethic."
Last year, the No. 1 doubles team of Lily Fisher and Riely Mikrut advanced to state. Also, the No. 2 doubles team of Andrea Chironis and Joanie Williams won conference and joined Fisher and Mikrut in Madison. Mikrut has graduated, but the other three will complement Geldermann, who will play No. 1 singles.
Fisher, a senior, is at No. 2 doubles, and she is undefeated so far. Chironis and Williams, both sophomores, bumped up to No. 1 doubles.
"Andrea and Joanie have started solid," Lauterbach said. "Last year, they were one of the best No. 2 doubles teams out there. They are working on finding that next level of intensity."
Junior Victoria Bouras will hold down the No. 3 singles spot, and sophomores Shannon Brumm and Ashlee Polena will vie for the final singles spot.
At No. 2 doubles, sophomore Gillian Suhre and senior Maddie Rausch already have three wins and are "jelling fast."
Three teams are battling for the No. 3 doubles spot, Grace Hatlestad and Maddy Rausch, Katelyn Theisz and Jacklyn Tueting and Sami Smith and Kaleigh Maclay.
Lauterbach said the team's depth is its strength. However, experience could be a weakness.
"A lot of girls are either new to their partner or varsity," Lauterbach said. "The learning curve has to be quick."
The Southern Lakes will feature defending champs Union Grove and Delavan-Darien as championship contenders.
"One of our team goals is to win the conference championship," Lauterbach said. "The season has been great so far. My goal is to practice, compete and to grow as a team. So far, the team chemistry is good and we are improving with each match we play."
Badger, which has started the season 4-3, travels to Westosha Central Thursday.
"All of our players have to improve every time they step on the court," Lauterbach said. "We want constant improvement. Each point is played to win, but we aren't worrying about winning."
On Aug. 23, Badger fell to Union Grove, 4-3.
Geldermann won at No. 1 singles, 6-1, 6-2, and Fisher cruised, 6-0, 6-0. At No. 1 doubles, Williams and Chironis won, 6-1, 6-1.
Overall, Badger is 4-3.