Jesse confident heading into state tennis competition
Singles champ leads five qualifiers
Mequon - Defending WIAA state Division 1 singles champion Alex Jesse of Homestead has all the physical tools.
He'll bring the big serve, and he can pound the forehand as well as anyone in Wisconsin.
But he knows that if he is to repeat as champion Saturday and, more importantly, bring the Highlanders that elusive first state team title as well on June 11, more than a flashy, line-bending, dust-raising winner will be needed.
"I had a long talk with Rick (veteran Highlanders assistant coach Rick Vetter) about this," he said, "and he put a good a perspective on it. We know that I'm the player with the target on his back, so everyone is a lot looser while I'm a little tighter (mentally).
"We talked about the fact that I should be more relaxed. He said that being relaxed, loose and positive is the key, because, as we all know, you don't get anywhere by being down on yourself."
That should not be a problem for the 26-1 top seed heading into this weekend's WIAA state individual tournament at the Nielsen Center in Madison. He led the Highlanders to a dominant win in the WIAA Oshkosh sectional May 26 and will be joined at individual state by four other entries.
In singles, 14th-seeded Danny Coran (23-4) and Will Kammerait (24-4) play Thursday afternoon while Jesse gets a first-round bye and plays a Friday morning second-round match against the winner of a match between Brookfield Central and Beloit Memorial opponents.
Jesse feels his two freshmen teammates can surprise people.
"They're smaller kids, so they can't overpower people," he said, "but they have great strokes and Rick (Vetter) has also worked with them on their mental and emotional game, too."
Kammerait has already split a couple of very high profile and important conference matches this season.
In doubles, the duo of Justin Kirtley and Nikhil Ramnarayan (18-7) earned the sixth seed. Also playing at Nielsen will be the team of Peter Apfelbach and Ben Wilson (20-4).
Play continues through the finals, which are scheduled for around noon Saturday.
Jesse, whose only loss this season is to an Illinois opponent, knows all his usual challengers as Marquette's Damon Niquet is the second seed and Whitefish Bay's Jack Larsen is the third seed.
He feels he's ready.
"Now it's not about the physical but about the emotional and mental battle that's ahead," he said. "I'm confident. This has been a great season, and I'm in a good frame of mind.
"I know the target is on my back, and that I have to rise above it, but I'm going to try and have a good time."
WIAA OSHKOSH SECTIONAL
TEAM SCORES (top five): Homestead 52, Neenah 35, Manitowoc 26, Cedarburg 23, Oshkosh West 16
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS: Homestead swept the singles competition as Alex Jesse, Danny Coran, Will Kammerait and Adam Bodner (20-6) won the first through fourth flight titles, respectively, while the teams of Justin Kirtley and Nikhil Ramnarayan, and Peter Apfelbach and Ben Wilson took the titles in first and second doubles, respectively.
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