Girls tennis team hopes for a big spring

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Karsen Dettman will be a key member of Middleton’s girls tennis team this spring./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Matt Given was planning for the worst.

Instead, Middleton’s girls tennis coach got the absolute best weather possible when his Cardinals began their alternate-fall season Monday.

Middleton was greeted with sunny skies and temperatures in the low-60s when it took the courts. And with temperatures expected to stay surprisingly warm all week, the Cardinals were given the gift of beautiful weather — something that rarely happens in early-March.

“This is a tough group of ladies, and I think they will wear an extra layer if it means we get to be outside,” said Given, who’s in his first year as Middleton’s coach. “We are just very happy to have this chance to play alternate-fall and we will make the most of every chance.”

The Cardinals’ season typically runs in the fall. Due to COVID-19, though, the WIAA gave teams the option of postponing fall sports to the spring, and Middleton elected to do just that.

Roughly 75% of the state’s teams played tennis last fall, meaning there won’t be nearly as many scheduling options for Given and the Cardinals. And while this season will pose some unique challenges, no one in Middleton’s camp is complaining.

“This season will be one that is filled with a lot of unknown, but we are ready to focus on the things that we can control,” Given said. “The schedule, weather, etc. are things that are out of our control. Our girls will show up to practice, matches, etc. and be prepared to compete to the best of their ability, and as coaches that is all we can ask for. As far as expectations, these girls will be ready to play!”

When Middleton last took the court in Oct. 2019, it finished second at the Waunakee Sectional and narrowly missed out of qualifying for state. It’s uncertain what the postseason will look like this spring, but the Cardinals expect to field a solid team once again.

Sophomore Sophia Agapov played No. 1 singles for Middleton last year and should be poised for a strong year.

“We look for her to build on the results she displayed last year,” Given said.

Seniors Karsen Dettman, Cece Hujanen and Noor Rajpal are all returning seniors that will play key roles.

“As coaches, we will look to them to be leaders in guiding the young ladies that we will have out this year,” Given said of his seniors.

Daphne Wu is another returner who could be poised for a big season.

“Daphne Wu will add some depth to our lineup,” Given said. “I am very excited to begin working with this awesome group of young ladies.

“We have quite a few young ladies that we feel will really add depth to our lineup this season. It is going to be a battle for those spots left and I am excited to work with and get to watch these ladies grow and get better at tennis.”

Given, a Math teacher at Middleton High School, was born and raised in Mesa, Az. He attended Arizona State University and has coached the last 12 years.

Mark Kryka, Middleton’s interim athletic director in the spring of 2020, hired Given last spring. And now, after nearly a year wait, Given finally gets the chance to coach his team.

“Honestly we were very relieved and happy,” Given said of having a season. “We know we have a very special group of seniors this season, and we did not want this to be the way they had to go out. Our program is full of awesome young ladies with unreal potential, and now they get a chance to show it on the courts.

“I am just truly happy to begin working with this group of girls, and being able to improve their tennis skills, all while making them better and more successful young ladies! This season will be one that we get to talk about for years to come, so why not make memories and have fun!”



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