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McGrails, Speare RVC royalty



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Speare

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McGrail (click for larger version)
September 28, 2011 | 07:44 AM
WHITEWATER — The Big Foot tennis team may have stumbled to a fourth-place team finish at last week's Rock Valley Conference meet, but three individuals made it an event coach Jim Karedes won't soon forget.

Senior Liz McGrail, playing at No. 1 singles, and the No. 1 doubles team of Williams Bay senior Lauren Speare and Liz's sister Annie, a freshman, each buzzed through their tournaments unscathed for individual conference titles.

Karedes wasn't thrilled about the team finish, but he understood because he adjusted the lineup knowing the team wasn't going to win conference. And it paid off big time.

"We have the three best players in the Rock Valley Conference," he said of his winners.

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Liz McGrail used her long frame and athleticism to outlast Whitewater's Hannah Runez in the title match, 6-2, 6-0. She easily disposed of her first-round opponent from Jefferson Thursday in straight sets as well.

"Liz's title match was very long, and she had to work hard for it," Karedes said. "Runez had her best match of the year according to her coach. But Liz was in control the whole time."

Liz McGrail improved to 19-2 overall, with her only losses to a girl who took sixth place in the Illinois state meet last year and Burlington's Stephanie Londre, who placed in the top 16 at the 2010 Wisconsin state tournament.

The team of Speare and Annie McGrail overcame a bad seeding to win it all, according to Karedes. He believed Big Foot, who was seeded second, should have been seeded first, and the Chief Dogs' first-round opponent, Whitewater, should've been higher than a three seed. Fourth-seeded East Troy upset top-seeded McFarland, so by the time the Big Foot girls faced the lower-seeded Trojans, it was cupcake time.

Speare and Annie McGrail made quick work of East Troy in the title, 6-2, 6-2, but had to work to beat the Whippets, 6-0, 7-6 (8-6).

"The win over Whitewater was an excellent match," Karedes said. "But the bad seeding affected Whitewater and McFarland."

Speare and Annie McGrail are 8-1 thus far. Annie McGrail played at No. 2 singles most of the year before joining Speare. Karedes said their chemistry is a tad surprising.

"It's rare for a senior-freshman combination to excel," Karedes said. "They have shown consistency and complement each other. I expect a really nice run in the postseason, possibly a No. 1 or 2 seed."

The girls will enjoy a week of practice before subsectionals begin Monday, Oct. 3. Karedes is looking forward to a fresh start.

"Everyone's 0-0 right now," he said. "Our doubles are loaded in talent. We are in a very good position to qualify three girls for state. We're not there yet."

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