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State titles on Homestead netters' minds this weekend in Madison

Konon looking for third singles crown

Oct. 12, 2013

Now it's time to play for history for the Homestead girls tennis team.

If only veteran head coach Jackie Egelhoff of the five-time WIAA state champion Highlanders can learn to relax a little.

"My former assistant Rick Vetter sent an e-mail after the sectional (on Oct. 9)," Egelhoff said. "It asked me 'Are you breathing? Just keep breathing, enjoy the moment, enjoy the process (laughing).'"

But Egelhoff can't help herself.

As noted, history is right in front of the Highlanders. The weekend of Oct. 25-26, they will try to become the first team in girls state history to win six straight state team championships and this coming weekend, Egelhoff's hammer, top-seeded singles player Elizabeth Konon (25-0) tries to join an elite sorority of three-time state singles champions.

The individual tournament runs Thursday through Saturday at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison with the finals slated for early afternoon on Saturday.

Confident in leader

Egelhoff feels that Konon is ready.

"She is, well to say, confident," Egelhoff said. "She takes this all very seriously, and she's continuing to work very hard. This past week (at sectional) her match play went to a new level, even by her standards."

Konon, for one, is going to take Vetter's advice.

"The time has just flown by, I can't believe it's almost the end of my senior season," she said.

As for her mind set? Let's just say her coach was not exaggerating.

"I feel I'm playing well," she said. "I'm feeling good, confident."

Too bad for everybody else.

Konon will be joined at state by 11th-seeded Anna Kreynin ( (22-1), and 15th-seeded Alex Talyansky (24-1) in singles and in doubles by the second-seeded duo of Mardee Merar and Katya Mikhailanko (28-1) and the 21-9 pair of Kate Weitzer and Madeline Slicker.

Their efforts led Homestead to a 51-point score in the 17-team sectional as Arrowhead was second with 44. Winning flight titles for the Highlanders were Konon at first singles, Kreynin at second singles, Talyansky at third singles, Merar and Mikhailanko at first doubles and Weitzer and Slicker at second doubles.

Merar is a big hitter

Egelhoff said that Merar and Mikhailanko looked very good on the day. She remains impressed with the 5-2 Merar, who is seen as the "finisher" on the team.

"By far she is our biggest hitter," Egelhoff said. "She throws her entire body into the shot when she plays. She hits the ball and it all goes over the net with her (laughs)."

Egelhoff was also impressed that Talyansky was able to earn a seed at state and was happy for Weitzer and Slicker as they earned an automatic state berth with their flight championship.

Konon, Merar and Talyansky have all been doing a great job in the leadership department, Egelhoff said, especially her confident singles champ Konon.

"Even though she can be all business," Egelhoff said. "She'll take the bull by the horns. She'll give little prematch speeches to the others, saying 'Common girls, let's have some fun!'"

Now if she can only get her coach to take that advice, too.

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