Tennis Cardinals aiming for big season

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Rob Reischel
Ryan Gold and Middleton's boys tennis team have high hopes this spring./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

So much with Middleton’s boys tennis program is new this season.

The Cardinals will be led by first-year coach Tony Mirasola.

Middleton will have several freshmen and newcomers scattered throughout its lineup.

In the midst of all the change, though, one thing figures to remain the same: success.

Middleton, which has been to the WIAA Division 1 state team meet seven times since 2009, figures to be strong once again.

“We certainly expect to be right up at the top of the conference,” Mirasola said. “We have one of the toughest conferences in the state, but I would expect us to finish in the top two or three this year. It will really depend on how the young players respond.”

Middleton appears to be in good hands with the youthful and energetic Mirasola.

Mirasola was a standout at La Crosse Central, where he was the Mississippi Valley Conference Player of the Year three times and a three-time state qualifier in the WIAA tournament. Mirasola also was a four-year letterwinner at UW-La Crosse, where he played both singles and doubles.

Mirasola coached the girls tennis team at La Crosse Central for three years while he attended UW-La Crosse. In that time, the Red Raiders won two conference championships and Mirasola was named the league’s Coach of the Year twice.

Mirasola, moved to Madison in 2016 and has been a volunteer assistant for Edgewood College’s men’s and women’s programs since.

Now, Mirasola can’t wait to take over a Middleton program that’s been highly successful over the last two decades.

“What appealed to me about the job is getting to take over a program with great kids, and a history of having the right principles and pieces in place for success,” Mirasola said. “It also excited me that we have a very large program and I get to see the development and growth of so many players.

“My goal is to encourage everyone to work harder and improve their game, while remaining positive at all times. I view that in most cases kids put enough pressure on themselves and have the inner desire to win, so I do my best to help them channel that and direct it in the right way and at the correct times.”

Mirasola should have a talented team on his hands this spring.

Senior Ryan Gold is one of the top singles players in the state. Gold, who will play No. 1 in the lineup, reached the state quarterfinals last year and finished the season 18-6 overall.

Freshman Ian Connell is expected to step into the No. 2 spot in the singles lineup, while freshman Jacob Mandelbrot will play No. 3. Junior Akshay Kelshiker and freshman Kieran Gopal are in the mix to play at No. 4 singles or possibly No. 3 doubles.

Senior Sam Dettman will lead Middleton’s doubles lineup. Dettman teamed with now graduated Rafael Sanga to go 21-7 last year and reach the state quarterfinals.

Senior Brandon Bodak played No. 2 doubles last season and reached the state tournament, where he and 2018 graduate Adam Schiebler won their first match.

Sophomore Gene Kim and senior Alton Yan went 21-2 at No. 3 doubles last year and won their flight at the Big Eight Conference tournament.

Seniors Jack Eggert and Jordan Cheng, along with sophomore Anders Clark will all be in the mix for playing time, as well.

“We still have some things to figure out at the bottom of our lineup, so I am not entirely sure where some people will be playing,” Mirasola said.

Mirasola and the Cardinals expect to be in the hunt for a Big Eight Conference title. Middleton also expects to compete for a sectional crown.

After all, no matter how much things change inside Middleton’s program, success has been a constant.

“I see us competing closely with the other teams from our conference for the sectional title and then hopefully if we were to qualify (for state) give some teams a tough match at the state tournament,” Mirasola said.

 

 

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