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For USM tennis coach, fourth straight is title to remember

New staff, players coalesced for results

June 17, 2009

Every championship is special, make no bones about it, but University School co-tennis coach Bob Buckley is going to remember the fourth straight WIAA State Division 2 Team title won by the Wildcats on Saturday for some very good reasons.

"It's very gratifying," he said, after USM defeated Madison Edgewood 6-1, in the finals at Nielsen Stadium in Madison. "There we were, a new staff, with a lot of new players and the kids just took to things so well."

There were five players USM had to replace after the 2008 state title and the coaching staff, which was put in place only shortly before the start of the season, worked well with each other. They included Steven Bloch and former Arrowhead head man Russ Trimble.

The best reason Buckley will remember the championship, however, is because it goes hand in glove with the individual singles title won by his senior, Santa Clara-bound son Nick the previous week. Nick Buckley won two matches easily to help the Wildcats to the team crown.

The Wildcats advanced to the final with a 7-0 semifinal sweep of La Crosse Aquinas earlier in the morning on Saturday. The only match they lost in the finals was at third doubles. It was the third time in four years that USM had beaten Edgewood in the championship.

Seniors for the Wildcats include Nick Buckley and the first doubles team of Ryan Stewart and John Rissell. The doubles pair got a big feather in their cap when they knocked off the state individual tournament champions from Edgewood, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, in their match.

"All the seniors went out as winners," Coach Buckley said.

Buckley said this team had a strong competitive heart and was not afraid to tackle Division I opposition, defeating Whitefish Bay and losing tough decisions to Homestead and Brookfield Central. Taking fourth in the Division I dominated Nicolet Sweet 16 Invitational was a special source of pride.

Award winners for USM this spring included Nick Buckley as MVP and second singles player Rishi Karri as the most improved. Captains for next year will be the second doubles team of John Rusch and Andy VandenBerg.

- Steven L. Tietz

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