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Five-time state champion Homestead netters working for a sixth title

Singles power Konon leads way

Aug. 27, 2013

The members of the Homestead girls tennis team are not walking around wearing tiaras, with streams of servants trailing behind them carrying their rackets and massaging their shoulders whenever needed.

But you couldn't blame the five-time WIAA State Division 1 champions for dreaming.

Because these Highlanders are dreaming of history. They are looking to break an historic tie with longtime rivals Brookfield Central and Nicolet. Both those programs won five state titles in a row at one point, too. The Lancers from 1983-87 and the Knights from 1992-96.

Homestead would like to be the first Wisconsin prep team to win six in a row.

"You know, the kids don't dwell on it," veteran coach Jackie Egelhoff said. "If they did, it would become a little overwhelming. We'll try to take each match individually and every day try to improve our performance. We do that, everything should take care of itself.

"They know who they are and who their competition is."

Team returns seven players

The target on the back is big, despite returning seven of the top 10 players from a year ago. They have opened strong, winning the four-match Brookfield East Spartan Invitational, downing strong Green Bay Southwest and Arrowhead teams by 5-2 marks in the process.

Then they claimed the round-robin Madison Invitational. Among the victories there was a 5-2 win over Madison West and a tough 4-3 decision over Middleton, which Egelhoff thinks will prove to be the Highlanders' major roadblock en route to history.

A lot of the pieces are in place. Senior two-time state singles champion Elizabeth Konon appears locked and loaded and ready for a third crown. She is a co-captain along with Mardee Merar. She worked with Merar over the summer contacting Egelhoff about uniforms and other protocols. Konon will miss some matches this season as she takes some college visits.

Moving to singles

Also back is sophomore Anna Kreynin. Kreynin moves into the second singles spot after teaming with the now graduated Sophia Lococo to claim the state doubles crown.

Merar, who was fifth in state singles last season, will team with one of three freshmen to make the varsity, Kayta Mikhailanko, at first doubles.

Other positions include senior Alex Talyansky at third singles, where she was last year, and freshman Lexi Heath at fourth singles, while in doubles, senior Kate Weitzer will work with sophomore Madeline Slicker at the second spot as seniors Hannah Goddard and Andrea Rossman will hold down the fort at three doubles.

Sophomore Nicole Martin and freshman Dasha O'Brien are the alternates on the no-cut 39 girl team.

"In many ways, this is similar to last year," said Egelhoff. "...This team does work well together, which is an important factor, when you have so much individual talent....We will be challenged in the future. There will be open events and college trips and we will have to make some adjustments at some events this year like the (Nicolet) Sweet 16."

And, as noted, Homestead has already been challenged. Other wins at the Brookfield East tourney include 7-0 triumphs over Kenosha Bradford and the host school, while in Madison, the Highlanders also beat Verona and Waunakee, both by 6-1 counts as well as Madison Memorial, 7-0.

Egelhoff frequently mixed and matched her lineup over the course of the events trying to get a look at as many people as possible. The Highlanders will be at the Brookfield Central Invitational on Thursday and Friday.

"It's amazing how quickly everything has gotten going," she said. "You get to the start (of the season), things start rolling and then everything becomes so exciting."

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