Tennis Cards win Big 8 title

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Xavier Sanga won the championship at No. 2 singles during the Big Eight Conference tournament Wednesday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

They lost 50% of their lineup from a year ago.

Their best player was sitting out the Big Eight Conference tournament.

But there seems to be no slowing the machine that is Middleton’s boys tennis program.

The Cardinals rolled to the Big Eight title on Wednesday, winning the two-day event with 50 points. Madison West was a distant second with 32 points, while Madison Memorial (26), Verona (26) and Sun Prairie (22) rounded out the top five.

Middleton captured first place in five of seven flights on its was to a fourth straight conference title.

“It was truly amazing,” said Dan Jin, who combined with Cody Markel to win a title at No. 3 doubles. “First of all, to be able to win the championship at five of seven flights is an incredible feat. Doing so without our best player (Jake Van Emburgh) is even better.

“That was really satisfying considering the fact that we've had some close team matches with other great schools like (Madison) West or Verona. So to be able to win the conference tournament as a team so successfully gives us a load of confidence going into subsectionals and sectionals.”

Brian Bellissimo, who played at No. 3 singles, won an individual and team title for the third straight year.

“I think this championship really proves that we are the best team in the area,” Bellissimo said. “Although this was a great win for us, we still have very high expectations moving forward and hope to achieve more.”

The Cardinals achieved plenty at the conference tournament.

Van Emburgh, who joined the team midway through the season and hasn’t played any Big Eight matches, sat out the conference tournament, as well.

Instead, Geri Uj stepped into the No. 1 singles spot and rolled to the title. Uj, a foreign exchange student from Hungary, defeated top-seeded Iram Turrubiartes of Sun Prairie, 6-2, 6-1 in the title match.

Middleton sophomore Xavier Sanga defeated Verona’s Patrick Conley, 6-0, 6-1, in the No. 2 singles match.

Bellissimo rolled to a 6-1, 6-4 win over Madison Memorial’s Cory Dennis at No 3 singles. And at No. 4 singles, Haiwen Dai defeated Sun Prairie’s Drew Tews 6-3, 6-3 in the title match.

Middleton settled for third place at No. 1 doubles and second place at No. 2 doubles.

But the duo of Jin and Markel posted a 6-2, 6-2 win over Madison West’s Cameron Carlson and Lucas Willauer in the No. 3 doubles final.

“I think that Cody and I are proud of ourselves for being able to roll through our opponents,” Jin said. “Just like everyone else, these wins will help us with future matches that are more important.”

Those matches begin next week.

Middleton is at the Waunakee Subsectional Tuesday at 8:30. The Cardinals then head to the Oconomowoc Sectional Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m.

With the postseason officially here, Middleton should have a world of momentum thanks to another conference tournament title.

“Winning the Big Eight tournament was definitely a goal of ours from the very start,” Middleton coach Andre Glass said. “And being able to do so, even without Jake, should propel us into the final stages of the season.

“Subsectionals and sectionals are just around the corner, so the competition faced at the Big Eight Tournament was just another building block for us to keep improving. With Jake added to the mix, we will have tremendous depth in our line-up. But in order to contend with other great teams in the state, we must focus in on our next goal.” 


May 19-20

Big Eight Conference tournament

Team scores: Middleton 50, Madison West 32, Madison Memorial 26, Verona 26, Sun Prairie 22, Janesville Craig 7.5, Madison East 7.5, Janesville Parker 4.5, Beloit Memorial 1.5.


No. 1 — Championship: Uj, M, def. Turrubiartes, SP, 6-2, 6-1. Third place: Tegtmeier, MM, def. Pletta, V, 6-0, 6-1. Semifinals: I. Turrubiartes def. Pletta, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0; Uj def. Tegtmeier, 7-5, 6-2.

No. 2 — Championship: X. Sanga, M, def. Conley, V, 6-0, 6-1. Third place: Drenoske, SP, def. Sheehan-Klenk, MW, 6-0, 6-0. Semifinals: Sanga def. Sheehan-Klenk, 6-0, 6-0; Conley def. Drenoske, 6-4, 6-3.

No. 3 — Championship: Bellissimo, M, def. Dennis, MM 6-1, 6-4. Third place: Swaminath, V, def. A. Turribiartes, SP, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Semifinals: Dennis def. A. Turrubiartes, 6-3, 6-3; Bellissimo def. Swaminath, 6-0, 6-1.

No. 4 — Championship: Dai, M, def. Tews, SP, 6-3, 6-3. Third place: Gallagher, MW, def. Gerrits, V, 6-2, 6-4. Semifinals: Tews def. Gerrits, 6-2, 6-2; Dai def. Gallagher, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.


No. 1 — Championship: J. Willauer-Munns, MW, def. Powell-Pitman, MM, 7-5, 6-1. Third place: Veeramani-Ballweg, M, def. Musters-Flynn, JC, 6-1, 6-2. Semifinals: J. Willauer-Munns def. Musters-Flynn, 6-1, 6-2.

No. 2 — Championship: Tillquist-Wolter, MW, def. Pyle-R. Sanga, M, 6-3, 7-6 (6). Third place: Goulette-Vredenbregt, MM, def. Rubin-Calvert/Strebe, ME, 6-1, 6-1. Semifinals: Tillquist-Wolter def. Rubin-Calvert/Strebe, 6-1, 6-0; Pyle-R. Sanga def. Goulette-Vredenbregt, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

No. 3 — Championship: Jin-Markel, M, def. Carlson-L. Willauer, MW, 6-2, 6-2. Third place: Gross-Schoeberle, V, def. Puglieli-Phan, MM, 6-4, 6-4. Semifinals: Carlson-L. Willauer def. Puglieli-Phan, 6-4, 6-4; Jin-Markel def. Gross-Schoeberle, 6-0, 6-2.


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