Clark, Dettman second at state

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Karsen Dettman (left) and Maddie Clark finished second in doubles play at the WIAA Division 1 girls state tennis tournament last weekend./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Maddie Clark had four different doubles partners during her stellar tennis career at Middleton High School.

Each one brought something different to the table, and Clark experienced an impressive level of success with all of her partners.

But Clark found the perfect fit in 2018.

Despite never having played together, Clark was paired with Karsen Dettman this fall. The two then proceeded to take the state by storm.

At last week’s WIAA Division 1 state tournament held at Nielsen Tennis Stadium, Clark and Dettman surged to the finals. There, Nicolet seniors Annabelle Crowley and Emma Koppa toppled Clark and Dettman, 6-3, 6-2, in Saturday’s championship match.

But Middleton’s dynamic duo left the state tournament extremely happy with how their weekend — and their first year together — went.

“This was our first season playing together, and I was amazed with how well we gelled and worked together to get to the finals,” Clark said. “Our passion for tennis and chemistry on and off the court helped us to get to where we ended up. We played so well this season and had a lot of tough competition so I'm happy that we earned the title of state runner-up.”

Dettman echoed Clark’s sentiments.

“I am very happy with second,” Dettman said. “We played well together throughout the tournament and the season and had many challenging matches. I also think Nicolet was a great competitor in the finals because they have been a very competitive team throughout the season.”

Clark and Dettman — who earned the tournament’s No. 1 seed — had an impressive ride to the finals.

After an opening round bye on Thursday, the Cardinals’ duo posted a pair of exciting wins Friday.

First, Dettman and Clark downed Jenna Tackmier and Anna Ziech of Green Bay Southwest, 6-2, 6-3. Middleton’s twosome then rolled past Cedarburg’s Hailey Haws and Willow Larson, 6-0, 6-1.

In the quarterfinals Friday night, though, things got much tougher.

Clark and Dettman dropped the first set, 7-5, to Homestead’s Bridget Brown and Kate Wade. But Clark and Dettman rallied to win the final two sets, 6-1, 6-4.

“In the first set, we seemed to struggle with playing our game, coming to the net and closing points,” Dettman said. “However, in the second set we began to realize that getting tight to the net led to the most success, which helped us in winning the second and third set. They were both great competitors with good hands which made it especially important to place our shots wisely.”

Clark said the intensity and passion of the crowd made it tough to initially focus.

“That match was probably our most intense match in terms of cheering from the crowds of both teams,” Clark said. “During the first set I was nervous and focused on what was going on around us, but after we settled into our rhythm, I realized I just needed to block out the crowd and focus on the match. During the second set we began coming to the net more and closing points.”

That win vaulted Dettman and Clark into Saturday’s semifinals, where they rolled by 12th-seeded Allyson Verbauwhede and Kendra Peterson of Manitowoc Lincoln. By all accounts, Clark and Dettman played one of their better matches of the year to reach the finals.

“Our confidence in the semifinal match Saturday morning definitely helped us win,” Clark said. “We were determined to get to the finals.

“We had never played Manitowoc Lincoln before so we didn't know what to expect. We started and ended the match aggressively, and our serves were one of our strengths. We had a plan for how we were going to play, and we executed the plan well.”

Dettman agreed.

“Our success on Saturday morning came mostly from coming out strong and not letting up at any point in the match,” Dettman said. “We stayed consistent with how we were playing, coming to the net and finishing points. We didn’t get in our heads when we messed up or were losing in a game. We took it one point at a time and rallied back, which led to much more success.”

Unfortunately for Middleton’s terrific twosome, the success ended there.

Crowley and Koppa played a sensational match in the finals and toppled Clark and Dettman.

“I think it was a mixture of them being on their ‘A’ game and us playing a bit tentative at times,” Dettman said. “We came out hoping to take control of the net, but they seemed to gain that control early on, and by the time we started to play more aggressively, it was just a little too late. They are both great doubles players and work well together, and were definitely playing their best tennis.”

Clark agreed with Dettman.

“Annabelle and Emma are amazing players and we knew we had a tough match ahead of us when we found out we were playing them in the finals,” Clark said. “During the finals match they were definitely on their ‘A’ game and played the best tennis we've seen them play.

“Although we knew it would be the toughest match of the season, I'm really glad we met them in the finals because they have such great sportsmanship and are all-around great doubles players. This was one of the best outcomes we could have had if we couldn't have won.”

Overall, Dettman and Clark agreed their weekend at state — and really their entire season — couldn’t have gone much better.

“This was such a memorable season for so many reasons,” Clark said. “Making the podium was one of my goals since freshman year and I'm so glad I got to accomplish that.

“After four years of going to state, I'm happy that we made it to the finals. I was really fortunate to have Karsen as a partner because she is so hardworking and determined. I can't wait to see what she does in the future because I know it will be incredible.”

Dettman still has two years left at MHS, but knows it won’t be easy to match what she and Clark just achieved.

“I will always remember the great chemistry Maddie and I share on and off the court, which I think is a big factor in our success,” Dettman said. “Overall, this season has definitely been one to remember.”


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