Lofty expectations for Homestead netters
Girls team has dominated; faces Janesville Parker
The expectations for the unbeaten Homestead girls tennis team couldn't be higher as the Highlanders aim for a third straight WIAA state team title this weekend in Madison.
It can safely be said that the pressure is really on for this deep and talented team, which hasn't come close to being challenged all fall.
But they are still just high school kids, and after a state individual tournament last week that would have been rated a raging success for every other school in the state, but could still be seen as a disappointment for them, the Highlanders needed a break.
A fun little pit stop
So before they came home Saturday, they made an ice cream and burger stop at the famous Ella's Deli in Madison.
"Everyone needed it. Everyone needed to have a little fun," said Highlanders coach Jackie Egelhoff. "They rode the merry-go-round (the famous 1927 Parker Carousel) and everything. It just really showed that they are really about each other."
"Because it is just tennis," said co-captain Dani Merar. "It is supposed to be fun and not be a crazy intense situation all the time. We (she and the other co-captain Corey Mattson) just want to make it manageable and fun for everyone else."
Merar and her sister Mardee earned third in the state doubles bracket behind runner-up teammates Sophia Lococo and Carly Peck.
Players back at it
But the Highlanders are not taking a "laissez-faire" approach toward still another team title. After they arrived back home in Mequon, Egelhoff said they held a players' only meeting.
"I think they were working on how to regroup for this week," she said.
And there is some thinking to do, for along with the two doubles medals the Highlanders won at individual state, there were the surprising results in singles to deal with. Freshman Elizabeth Konon had a great coming out party, taking third, while two-time state singles champ Aly Coran had to settle for a stunning fourth.
"We really didn't foresee that (Coran losing twice, including to Konon in the third-place match)," Egelhoff said. "There was just so much pressure (on her)."
But that's when the team aspect came into play again.
"If anyone was sad going up on the podium," said Egelhoff, "someone else (from the team) was there consoling her."
Preparing for test ahead
But everyone agrees that the time for consolation is over. Egelhoff expected the Monday practice leading into this weekend to be "very high energy" as the Highlanders prepare for their state quarterfinal match on Friday at 5:30 p.m. with Janesville Parker back at Nielsen Stadium in Madison.
The semifinal at 9 a.m. Saturday will be "the match of the tournament," in Egelhoff's eyes, as it will be against the winner of DSHA and Homestead's North Shore rival, Whitefish Bay. Homestead has beaten both teams a couple of times each this season.
The championship match is at 2 p.m.
And again with those high expectations staring them in the face, the co-captains are looking to keep everyone loose.
"It's going to be a good end," said co-captain Mattson, the third singles player who is battling a bit of a knee problem that slowed her at individual state. "It's been a long season but state is a good time. The fun nights in the hotel can get a little noisy sometimes (laughs).
"We've learned to keep a balance. We know that just because we've beaten a team before doesn't mean we'll automatically beat them again. We just can't let the pressure get to us."
An attitude that Egelhoff will look to reinforce all week.
"The third time around is very exciting," she said. "This group is so close. It would be really marvelous to pull it off."
Bid for third state team title on line for Homestead tennis
→ Aly Coran (30-3 overall, 4-2 at the tournament), fourth. Lost to Elizabeth Konon, 6-0, 6-0, in third-place match.
→ Konon (34-1, 5-1), third. Beat Coran, 6-0, 6-0, in third-place match.
→ Corey Mattson (33-2, 1-1), no place. Lost in second round.
→ Carly Peck and Sophia Lococo (34-1, 5-1), second. Lost to defending state champions Tara Robey and Sarah Woods of DSHA, 6-4, 6-4, in championship match.
→ Dani and Mardee Merar (37-2, 5-1), third. Beat Priyanka Sikka and Alleigh Fralick of Rhinelander, 6-1, 6-1, in the third-place match.
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