Port, Grafton girlsâ tennis teams take aim at improved finishes in conference and beyond
Veteran talent will be counted on to carry the load for the Port Washington girlsâ tennis team this season.
As the Pirates try to improve on a last-place finish in the North Shore Conference last year, first-year coach Jennifer Garven is turning to eight seniors, including seven letterwinners.
âIâm expecting our seniors will have a strong mind-set. They just want to play as hard as they can,â Garven said.
The Piratesâ seniors are led by Ali Bichler at No. 1 singles and also include twins Cat and Kimberly Boldig, Hannah Evers, Sarah Miller, Emily Nuernberg, Amy Pucilowski and Jamie Vogel.
Among other varsity regulars will be juniors Lindsay Peiffer, Allie Mann and Amber Setzer and sophomore Kristina Rossi.
Miller and Peiffer have the inside track as the No. 1 doubles team, with the Boldig sisters likely to be the No. 2 duo and Nuernberg and Pucilowski as the No. 3 team, Garven said.
âWe have a good group of players who are working hard,â she said. âWeâre hoping for good things this year.â
Port opened the season with a 15th-place finish at the South Milwaukee Invitational on Aug. 17 and 18.
The Pirates posted a 1-3 dual-meet record in the 16-team tournament, defeating Greenfield, 5-2, for their lone win. Their losses came against Cudahy (4-3), Racine Horlick (6-1) and Oak Creek (7-0).
Bichler had a 2-2 record, including wins over Cudahyâs Allie Hogan, 6-1, 6-1, and Horlickâs Lauren Frecka, 6-0, 6-2. In her other matches, Bichler battled Serena Sellers for 2-1/2 hours before losing, 6-7, 6-3 (10-5), and also lost in three sets to a Greenfield foe.
âAli played some great matches. She had some real battles,â Garven said.
Against Greenfield, Port got singles wins from Pucilowski at No. 2 and Nuernberg at No. 3 and doubles victories from Miller and Peiffer (No. 1), Mann and Setzer (No. 2) and sophomore Anna Pierringer and freshman Madeline Lerche (No. 3).
Miller and Peiffer outlasted My Nguyen and Jodi Allison, 6-4, 3-6, (10-6). Pierringer and Lerche, who were playing together for the first time, defeated Robin Sander and Veronica Nakhla, 6-0, 6-3.
The Piratesâ other wins against Cudahy came from Pierringer at No. 2 singles and Nuernberg and Pucilowski at No. 2 doubles.
Garven was impressed with her teamâs overall play in the tournament, noting the Pirates were competitive against tough opposition.
âIt was a good start to the season for us,â she said.
Port will open conference play Thursday with a 3:30 p.m. home meet against Milwaukee Lutheran. On Saturday, the Pirates will participate in the Tournament of Roses hosted by St. Francis.
VARSITY VETERAN players on this yearâs Grafton High School girlsâ tennis team include (front row, from left) Becky Dickmann, Ana Mercado, Megan Alascio, (back row) Emily Neuser, Sara Grange, Marina Younger and Audrey Dickmann.
Photo by Sam Arendt
Black Hawks off to solid start
The Grafton girlsâ tennis team opened its season with a strong showing at the South Milwaukee Invitational on Aug. 17 and 18, posting a 3-1 dual-meet record.
The Black Hawks scored 6-1 wins over Whitnall and West Allis Central/Hale and a 5-2 victory over Waterford. They lost to Racine Case, 4-3.
Going 4-0 in doubles play for Grafton was the No. 1 team of Audrey Dickmann and Megan Alascio and the No. 2 team of Emily Neuser and Marina Younger.
In singles, Ana Mercado led the Hawks with a 3-1 record at No. 1.
Grafton coach Nick Kassens said he was encouraged by his teamâs tournament performance but itâs too early to predict how the Hawks will fare this season. Grafton was fifth in the North Shore Conference last year.
âWeâve been missing a number of players, so things have been up in the air. Our lineup will be in flux until school starts,â he said.
Grafton has two seniors, Neuser and Becky Dickmann, who will be in their fourth year of play. The Hawksâ other varsity candidates include juniors Neuser, Alascio, Mercado, Younger, Courtney Bernd, Audrey Dickmann, Sara Grange, Madison Ryan and Sam Smith and sophomore Hannah Zarem.
Kassens said three other seniors â Katie Canepa, Sarah Docter and Mandy Marx â could make the varsity roster but have been unable to play enough to qualify at this point in the season.
This week, Grafton will open North Shore Conference play with a 3:30 p.m. home meet Thursday against Cedarburg and host the Black Hawk Invitational at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. The tournament field will also include Milwaukee Pius, Sheboygan Falls, Sheboygan South and West Bend West.