Tags: Feature Sports Story, Sports
October 09, 2012 | 05:09 PMA couple weeks ago, the Badger girls tennis team was in a giving mood and shared the Southern Lakes Conference title with Union Grove.
However, at the Oct. 3 Badger Sectional, the team got a little selfish in a good way.
With 33 points, the host Badgers captured first place in the 17-team sectional and earned their first team state trip in school history. The Badger boys made the school's only team state appearance in 1999. Badger squeaked by second-place Milton (30 points).
Badger benefitted from champions at No. 2 singles (Lily Fisher) and No. 1 doubles (Andrea Chironis/Joanie Williams) along with a second-place finish at No. 1 singles (Cricket Geldermann) and third place at No. 4 singles (Victoria Bouras). Fisher, Geldermann and Chironis and Williams all qualified for this weekend's individual state tournament, which opens Thursday night at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
In Division 2, sophomore Annie McGrail was Big Foot's lone state qualifier. She took third place at No. 1 singles.
What helped put Badger over the top was points from all seven flights, with all girls scoring at least two points by winning one match at subsectionals (subsectional and sectional points are combined to determine a sectional champion).
Although Badger tennis coach Paul Lauterbach said individuals had a chance to win sectionals, he said the team accomplishment kind of came out of nowhere.
"We knew we had a little bit of a chance for team state, but it wasn't the focus," Lauterbach said. "It was a surprise. Everyone contributed points to the win. At some point of subs and sectionals, every player had their best match. We truly came together at the end. We knew team state was a possibility, but the girls didn't even really know about it."
Lauterbach understands the historical significance.
"It was fun, and I hope the kids enjoy it," he said. "It could be a long time before it happens again. It was our day."
Lauterbach said Williams and Chironis had one of the most important wins of the day at sectionals, a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Milton, which qualified the duo for individual state.
"They split with Milton during the year," Lauterbach said. "Our girls went on to win the sectional, and Milton didn't score any points. If Milton would've won that first match, they would've won the sectional."
Williams and Chironis, both sophomores, went on to beat Waterford's Alyssa Helwig and Bridget Brockmann, the SLC champs, 6-1, 7-6 (3) in the championship match. Williams and Chironis were up 3-0 in the second set but then lost four games in a row before bouncing back.
"They played really well," Lauterbach said of the tandem. "They won their first 18 games of the tournament. They were pretty strong."
Fisher remained perfect at 25-0 with wins over Milton (6-0, 6-4) in the championship and Madison East (6-1, 6-0) in the qualifying round.
"Lily out-hit Milton in the first set," Lauterbach said. "She came through and finished super strong."
Obviously pumped after winning the sectional, Fisher jumped into Lauterbach's arms.
"I'm really excited," Fisher said after her match. "I screamed. I felt bad because I kind of did it in my opponent's face. But it was one of my goals to beat her handily. I almost lost to her in a tiebreaker earlier in the season. I was in control of most of the points. I really wanted to win, so I really smacked the ball."
Fisher, a senior, is making her first state trip as a singles player. She qualified last year as a doubles team with Riely Mikrut. This is her first time playing singles in high school tennis.
"Coach kept saying, 'If you lose, you're done,'" Fisher said. "That kind of got to my head, but after I start hitting the ball, I focus on the match. I like singles a lot. You depend on yourself, and it's really rewarding to get yourself through a tough situation."
Fisher added the team has bonded very well this year, and it has attributed to its success.
"We're really supportive of each other," she said. "We all have each other's backs."
Geldermann (21-2) overcame injury to take second. In her second match, a three-set marathon victory over Sun Prairie's Dao Sysouvanh, Geldermann injured her right hand, which is the hand she hits with. At one point, she her hand was cramping so badly, she took time out with a trainer. Geldermann eventually lost, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, to Milton's Lea Krajcovicova in the championship. Geldermann's only two losses have come to Krajcovicova, the seventh-seeded player in Division 1 singles for the individual state tournament.
"Cricket played inspirational tennis," Lauterbach said. "She was hurt, sore, tired and fought like I haven't seen anyone fight. I saw a side of her I haven't seen all season."
"Sectionals was a very hard day for me," Geldermann said. "I had two tough matches against some good players. I hurt my hand playing tennis over the summer. I was physically and mentally beat, so for me to do as well as I did against her really surprised me."
Geldermann had the honor of informing the rest of the team about the team state trip.
"Coach came up to me right after the championship," Geldermann said. "He told me and then said I was the one who was going to be telling the rest of the team. The feeling didn't hit me until I told the girls, and they all started screaming and jumping up. It was a great feeling."
At No. 4 singles, Bouras took third place by injury default. She fell to eventual champion Monona Grove in the opening round. While the champions contributed eight points each toward the team title and Geldermann added six, Bouras tallied five points.
"Victoria played her best tennis of the season," Lauterbach said.
Lauterbach said despite a tough draw, Geldermann could go far this weekend.
"Cricket isn't seeded in the top eight, but she is better than the players above her," Lauterbach said. "She will have her work cut out for her. Cricket is truly one of the best players in the state. If she wins the first two rounds, she will have to beat the defending state champ. But ultimately, she can become state champion. She extremely talented and has the game to do it.
Lauterbach said Fisher and Williams and Chironis (15-2) also have tough draws.
"Our goal for them is to win a round," Lauterbach said. "If Joanie and Andrea win, they get the No. 1 seed. We must play better tennis than we have. We want to play good tennis and enjoy the experience. Not everyone gets to state. Everyone has tough draws, but anything can happen at state."
Fisher hopes to pick up some wins in Madison.
"My goal is to win two rounds at state," she said. "I have nothing to lose."
Geldermann isn't getting ahead of herself.
"My injury is what it is," she said. "We'll see how the state tournament goes. I could run into my good friend Elizabeth, who just so happens to be the No. 1 seed. I'm just taking it match by match so I can't tell you how far I'll go."