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Badger tennis boasts two conference champs

Doubles have big weekend, team breaks three-way tie

Riley Nocek (above) and partner Max Gilbertson took second at No. 1 doubles. Mike Ramczyk.

Alex Kulik was part of the 3 doubles conference champion team with Josh Bakken. Mike Ramczyk. (click for larger version)
May 14, 2013 | 04:48 PM
BURLINGTON — Doubles teams have been up for grabs for the Badger tennis team this season. After No. 1 doubles, eight athletes have vied for spots on the team's Nos. 2 and 3 squads.

Last weekend, the No. 2 doubles team of Mike Cordes and Connor Schaid — playing only their fourth, fifth and sixth matches together of the season — proved they are here to stay.

Cordes and Schaid nabbed first place at the Southern Lakes Conference tournament, held Friday and Saturday at Waterford and Burlington high schools. Badger's No. 3 doubles team of Josh Bakken and Alex Kulik also won conference.

Overall, Badger took second place as a team one year after placing fourth in conference.

The local netters entered the meet in a three-way tie for second place in the regular season at 5-2.

Elkhorn, who went 7-0 during the regular season, won the SLC meet as well. With 36 total points, it was the Elks' first conference tennis title in 26 years. Badger finished with 30 points.

Badger coach Paul Lauterbach, in his first season back with the boys after coaching the club in the 1990s, couldn't have been happier with the outcome.

"We exceeded our team goal," Lauterbach said Monday night. "Our players had to step up and they did. Everyone contributed, and we played our best tennis of the season. We really had to work for it."

Lauterbach gave credit to Elkhorn as well. He said Badger players beat Elkhorn last weekend in four of five matches. Badger also beat Waterford in two matches, so overall the local boys exacted revenge from the regular season in six matches, according to Lauterbach.

Badger found its strength in doubles last weekend. The No. 1 doubles team of Max Gilbertson and Riley Nocek placed second, falling 6-2, 6-2 in the championship match against Elkhorn.

Cordes and Schaid made quick work of Waterford and Westosha Central before facing Elkhorn in the finals. The duo wasn't seeded in the top four teams in the tournament and only had a 2-1 record as a team. In the final, Elkhorn won the first set, 7-5, but Badger stormed back to win, 6-3, in both the second and third sets.

"I told the boys that they have to believe they can win," Lauterbach said. "They really turned it up in the second and third sets. We started playing like the favorite."

At No. 3 doubles, Bakken, a freshman, and Kulik, a sophomore, played well beyond their years. The No. 4 seed with a 3-2 record entering the meet, the young tandem easily knocked off Westosha Central and Burlington.

In the final against Elkhorn, they fell into a 5-2 hole in the first set. After a pep talk from Lauterbach, Bakken and Kulik went on a 5-0 run to win the first set, 7-5. They finished off the Elks, 6-2, in the second set.

"They played with confidence," Lauterbach said.

At No. 3 singles, Dan Weiner took fourth place. Also, Badger had two consolation champions, or fifth-place finishers, Liam Bailey at No. 1 singles and Eric Heinz at No. 4 singles.

Badger will enjoy a week off before postseason play begins with subsectionals Monday, May 20.

Lauterbach hopes several players can advance to sectionals, which will be held at Badger High School Wednesday, May 22. He said Gilbertson and Nocek (16-6) could have the best shot of advancing in the postseason.

"It will be very difficult to get someone to state," he said. "We have continued to improve throughout the season. In the playoffs, you either produce or you don't. I'm hoping we can turn some heads. I think we will have a nice team presence at sectionals."


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