Patience was a necessary virtue for the parents and fans attending the Nicolet Sweet 16 girls tennis invite Saturday.
Morning rain delayed the proceedings and pushed the finals into the evening, and darkness forced the final between Homestead and Divine Savior Holy Angels to be moved from Nicolet to under the lights at Cahill Park in Whitefish Bay.
After all of that waiting, the finals didn't hold any surprises. Homestead, the two-time defending Division 1 state champs, topped the Dashers, 7-0. But DSHA, which shuffled its lineup against Homestead, seemed to have plenty of fun being in the finals.
"Homestead is unbelievable," said sophomore Maddy Henderson, smiling despite being dispatched by Aly Coran, 6-0, 6-1, at No. 1 singles. "They're one of my favorite teams to play. I have a blast every time I play them.
"I thought we did really well. Everybody played their hearts out. I'm really happy with the way everybody played."
DSHA coach Greg Cromwell added: "They played six hours of tight tennis all day. We decided to mix things up a little bit. We have the benefit of having a team that has a lot of girls that can play doubles and singles. The team captains said they wanted to mix it up, and the results were pretty good. We almost won three flights."
Homestead won all of the singles matches in straight sets. DSHA challenged the Highlanders in two doubles matches. The No. 3 team of sophomore Teresa Balistreri and junior Kenzie Gildner, who were playing doubles for the first time, lost to Homestead juniors Michelle Levin and Claire Songkakul 6-1, 1-6, 6-4. Homestead's No. 1 doubles pair of Dani Merar and Mardee Merar dominated a third set to win, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, against juniors Sarah Woods and Morgan Braza.
"It's always a great tournament, and we were fortunate enough to be in the finals tonight," said Homestead coach Jackie Egelhoff. "It's good to see different types of players and good competition. This is helping us prepare for the end of the season.
"(Playing late) is a good test, too, on how to stay focused. I'm very proud of the way they've been playing."
DSHA earned a trip to the finals by edging Whitefish Bay, 4-3, in exciting fashion. With the semifinals tied at three matches apiece, all eyes turned to the No. 2 doubles matchup between DSHA's Braza and Morgan Drezek, and Elise Wirkus and Jackie Comerford of Whitefish Bay. The Dashers duo broke serve three times in the deciding set and won the match, 7-5, 5-7, 6-2.
"I think we've established ourselves as the clear No. 2 team," Cromwell said. "We're not No. 1 yet, but it's important for us to come out and beat every team that we can. Homestead's a little too tough right now, but we'll regroup, and we'll see them again."
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