Adam Kolnik may face teammate Seb Lauterbach in the state semifinal. Mike Ramczyk. (click for larger version)
May 28, 2013 | 04:23 PMELKHORN — Just before the WIAA tennis playoffs, Big Foot junior Seb Lauterbach's world was turned upside down.
Right before the conference tournament a few weeks back, Lauterbach's grandmother passed away.
Lauterbach struggled both mentally and physically against an opponent he previously dominated but found a way to win conference. On May 22 at sectionals at the Four Lakes Athletic Club, with the tragic loss still on his mind, Lauterbach had to win his first match to qualify for state.
Lauterbach breezed through his first match and battled to win two more and capture the sectional championship.
In the final against Madison Edgewood's Patrick McKenna, Lauterbach fell in the first set, 6-7 (3) before coming back to win the next two sets, 7-5, 11-9. It was a big win for Lauterbach, who hasn't really been himself for the past two weeks.
"The loss was tough, but they always are," Lauterbach said of his grandmother's passing. "We didn't know how conference was going to go because I had never played through anything like this before, but I went out there and gave it my all. It started off pretty shaky and was emotional at first. I was letting too many things affect my play. But through the help of my coaches, family, and team I got through my matches and just focused on playing the tennis."
Lauterbach had to block everything out just to get through his matches. His teammates helped.
"On the bus rides or sitting around to play, my teammates kept my mind off the situation and I think that helped more than anything," Lauterbach said. "Tennis is a mentally draining sport and it was hard to keep my focus throughout my matches."
In the sectional final, Lauterbach was pushed to the limit.
"The final was really difficult," he said. "He was an excellent competitor, and we had an awesome match. I knew we both had a long day, and we were both tired and just wanted it to be done. I couldn't have asked for a better championship match."
While winning sectionals was just an added bonus for Lauterbach, teammate Adam Kolnik had to win sectionals at No. 2 singles to advance to the state tournament.
Kolnik had no problem, losing only one game in his first match then downing McFarland's Joey Kopp, 6-2, 6-1, to advance to state.
Kolnik utilized an aggressive style and a powerful serve to overpower his opponents.
Lauterbach and Kolnik move on to this weekend's WIAA state tennis tournament at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison. First-round matches begin Thursday, and championships are Saturday.
Neither Lauterbach nor Kolnik received a top-eight seed, but if everything goes well, the two could face each other in the state semifinals.
It is the first year playing singles at state for both players. The two were a doubles duo at state last year.
"I am very happy to be playing at the state tournament this year," Lauterbach said. "There is great competition, and I hope to play my best in every match. I just want to be happy with how I play and leave it all on the court. If I get beat in the first round then I get beat."