State champ Jesse leads Homestead tennis
Highlanders win Madison Memorial Quad tournament
Mequon — Even Whitefish Bay boys tennis coach Phil Kelbe notices how much bigger and stronger Homestead's defending state singles champion Alex Jesse is right now.
"We've seen him play indoors over the winter and he's improved his game substantially," said Kelbe. "He's still clearly the man to beat this year."
And Highlanders coach Jackie Egelhoff is glad that she has the junior Jesse around as he leads a significantly younger Homestead crew into battle this year than the one that won the North Shore Conference title and took second in the WIAA State Team Tournament last season.
"He's really prepared right now," said Egelhoff. "He's played all year long against really good competition."
And in this truncated, holiday and weather-slowed spring, getting a little competition was exactly what the Highlanders needed and got on Saturday, when they swept three teams and won the Madison Memorial Quad.
Homestead defeated Middleton, 6-1, Memorial, 7-0, and Madison Edgewood, 7-0, in claiming its title.
As noted, the lineup will be a bit younger for Egelhoff this spring, as aside from Jesse, all the other singles' players will be new. They include freshmen Danny Coran and Will Kammerait at the two and three positions, respectively, and sophomore letter winner Adam Bodner.
Coran is the younger brother of two-time state girls singles champion Aly Coran.
In doubles, Homestead has a bit more experience, including seniors Justin Kirtley and Ben Wilson, junior Nikhil Ramnarayan and sophomore Peter Apfelbach. Ramnarayan was a letter winner in singles last season.
Down at the third spot in doubles, there is a competitive battle going on with seniors Nick Rusch and Sam Morris and juniors Andrew Weitzer (letter winner) and Daniel Silber.
"It's been tough to get anything going," said Egelhoff. "We had an early spring break while other schools have later breaks. We've also ran into a lot of rain, so the guys are just anxious to get out and play some tennis."
In the North Shore this season, Egelhoff sees an experienced Bay team as the biggest challenger with Nicolet not far behind.
And Homestead will get that competition they're after very soon, as it will take part in the Neenah Quad on Saturday and then will host Nicolet on Tuesday and visit Whitefish Bay on May 5. They took on defending state champ Marquette on Wednesday, in a nonconference match.
While young, Egelhoff is pleased to go into battle with the youthful players she has at her disposal.
"The seniors are truly the leaders," she said. "They're setting the tone and giving the others some high goals to shoot after."
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