The Verona boys tennis team traveled to Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison on Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 16, for the Big Eight Conference meet. Seniors Will Tennison and Chris Queoff won titles at Nos. 1 and 4 singles but the Wildcats retired from two matches and were unable to defend their conference title.
“Playing in here, it’s a lot more humid,” coach Rick Engen said. “You’ve got to get your body ready for it.”
It was the second conference title for Tennison and Queoff.
“It is very special to win a conference title, the Big Eight is one of the best conferences in the state,” Tennison said. “There are a lot of great players. To be the best is a big deal.”
Tennison said the goal for the rest of the way is to win an individual state title and to help Verona back to team state. He finished a program-best sixth overall as a freshman. The senior earned the top-seed last year and is expected to do so again this season.
“I have experience from last year. I know the seeds don’t really mean anything,” Tennison said. “Every match you’re just going out trying to win. It’s just a number.”
Tennison is no stranger to injuries at state, though, having battled a shoulder and groin problem last year.
“You have to start early trying to prepare your body and making sure you’re really fit before state,” he said. “When it comes, it’s a lot of matches in three days. It’s not easy to play six matches.”
Verona was back at Nielsen on Monday, May 20 for the WIAA Division 1 Verona subsectional.
The sixth-ranked Verona boys tennis team won Big Eight titles at Nos. 1 and 4 singles last week. The Wildcats were unable to repeat as conference champions, however, finishing third with 35 points.
“I feel like several of our players were sick coming into today,” Queoff said. “I think that contributed to a lot of our problems.”
Middleton swept all three doubles flights to win the tournament with 44 points. Sun Prairie brothers Josh Baldwin (25-6) and Jacob Baldwin (29-4) won titles at Nos. 2 and 3 singles to help the Cardinals finish second with 41.
Led by the singles lineup all season, seniors Will Tennison and Chris Queoff won titles at Nos. 1 and 4 singles. The Wildcats had to retire at Nos. 2 and 3 singles due to cramping.
No. 1 singles
Sick and held out of Verona’s dual meet at Sun Prairie on Monday, May 13, Tennison rolled 6-2, 6-1 over Cardinal senior Aidan Schutter in the No. 1 singles championship match.
“Everytime I play Aidan I know it’s going to be a battle. He’s a really good player,” Tennison said. “With the way I was feeling, I wanted to get out to an early start and not make the match drag on.”
The senior dropped just three games through the first two round, rolling 6-0, 6-1 and 6-1, 6-1 over Beloit Memorial’s John Dimassis and Madison La Follette’s Tyger Yang.
No. 4 singles
A state qualifier at No. 2 singles last year, Queoff won his first individual conference title Friday at No. 4 singles.
“It was nice being the top seed and have a pretty easy draw at the beginning,” he said.
Queoff rolled 6-1, 6-2 over Sun Prairie’s Jonathan Pulvermacher in the championship match. He cruised 6-0, 6-0 past Beloit Memorial’s Gabriel Binning in the first round and then held off a tough second set against Middleton’s Kieran Gopal 6-3, 7-5 in the semifinals.
A week before the conference tournament, Queoff moved from No. 4 to 3 singles at Sun Prairie and the experience may have helped in the long run.
“I played a harder match,” Queoff said. “That was some good practice, getting to play some more competitive tennis. I’m just looking forward to what’s coming next.”
Queoff won a conference title at No. 3 doubles as a freshman.
Nos. 2 and 3 singles
Nagpal was the top seed at No. 3 singles and rolled through his first two rounds 6-0, 6-0 against Janesville Craig and Madison Memorial. Locked in a hard-fought championship match, Nagpal and Sun Prairie second-seeded Jacob Baldwin split sets. Nagpal began noticeable cramping in the second set but won the match despite taking a medical timeout. The pain was too great to carry on in the third set, however, and Nagpal retired 6-3, 5-7, 1-0.
Fan, seeded second at No. 3 singles, retired after splitting sets in the semifinals against Middleton freshman Ian Connell and lost 5-7, 6-2, 1-0. The Verona senior returned to the court for his third-place match but wasn’t the same and fell 6-3, 6-4 to Madison Memorial junior Albert Men.
Verona’s top doubles finish came from the No. 3 doubles team of Michael Happel and Brady Supanich, who finished third. The beat Sun Prairie 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the first round but fell to the eventual champions Anders Clark and Jordan Cheng of Middleton in the semifinals. Happel and Supanich closed the tournament besting Madison Memorial 6-4, 7-6 (5) for third.
Conner Dugan and Jacob Lotta fell to Madison West but fought back to defeat Janesville Craig and Madison La Follette to finish fifth at No. 2 doubles. The Wildcats’ No. 1 doubles team of Evan Schmidt and Graham Meyer beat Beloit Memorial in a play-in match but then fell to top-seeded Middleton and Janesville Craig before bouncing back to beat Madison La Follette 6-2, 3-6, 10-6 to finish seventh.
Verona advanced all four singles flights but none of the Wildcat doubles teams advanced through Monday’s WIAA Division 1 subsectional meet.
Tennison (24-0), Nagpal (19-4), Fan (17-7) and Queoff (27-1) will be back in Nielsen on Thursday for the sectional meet.
Fan beat Oliver Smith of Madison La Follette 6-1, 6-0 and Ian Connell of Middleton 6-3, 6-2. The top-seed at No. 3 singles, Nagpal earned a bye and then defeated Madison Memorial’s Joey Rhodes. Queoff earned the top seed at No. 3 singles and beat Joe Herrmann of Madison West 6-1, 6-2 to reach sectionals. Tennison was the top seed at No. 1 singles and earned a bye.
Dugan and Lotta and Happel and Supanich won a round at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles but lost in the second round. Meyer and Schmidt lost their first match to Madison Memorial.
Verona and Middleton, which advanced all three doubles flights plus its Nos. 1 and 4 singles players, are tied with 16 points after subsectionals. The team with the most points combined from subsectionals and sectionals advances on to the team state tournament June 7-8 in Madison.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Engen said. “We’ve got to win every match.”