Great expectations for boys tennis team

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Ian Connell is the top returning player for Middleton’s boys tennis team./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld


It’s a word that’s been thrown out of the dictionary in the past year. But as Middleton’s boys tennis team gathered for the first time last week, Cardinals head coach Tony Mirasola and his group suddenly felt normal once again.

“It's certainly been a breath of fresh air to have the season this spring,” Mirasola said. “I know the guys are all really excited to be back out on the court and competing after missing last year. Everyone really missed being able to compete in that team environment and being able to play again brings some sense of normalcy for these guys.”

After the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19, Middleton is enjoying — and appreciating — the chance to compete more than ever.

What could make things even more exciting is the Cardinals appear to have the makings of one of the top teams in Wisconsin. Middleton began its season by going 4-0 at the Coaches Classic at Brookfield Central High School last weekend.

“I feel great about our team, Mirasola said. “And after going 4-0 the first weekend, it looks like we are starting to come into form.”

Junior Ian Connell is Middleton’s top returning plater. Connell played No. 2 singles in 2019 and will play either No. 1 or 2 singles this year, and perhaps some No. 1 doubles.

“I would expect Ian to compete for a sectional title and qualify for individual state,” Mirasola said. “Ian is a really strong singles player and has grown and improved from two years ago.”

Senior Gene Kim played No. 2 doubles two years ago and jumps up to No. 1 doubles this year.

“I would anticipate that he will qualify for state as well,” Mirasola said.

Jacob Mandelbrot played No. 3 singles in 2019 and moves to No. 2 doubles this year. Anders Clark moves from No. 3 doubles to No. 2 doubles, as well.

“They’re a strong (No.) 2 team and as they play more together I’d anticipate they will have a lot of success this year,” Mirasola said.

The Cardinals also have a bevy of gifted newcomers.

Freshman Koji Heineman vaults right to the top of the singles lineup.

“I would expect Koji to qualify for the state tournament and have a strong case to be seeded,” Mirasola said. “He is a very strong freshmen player.”

Sophomore Jonathan Kim will play mostly No. 3 singles, but could also play some doubles, as well.

“He is great singles player and even at (No.) 3 singles I’d expect he would have a very strong chance to qualify for state,” Mirasola said.

Sophomore Aarush Gupta will play 4 singles.

“Aarush is a very talented sophomore and a really smart and strategic singles player,” Mirasola said. “He is likely one of the best (No.) 4 singles players in the state.”

After losing a season, it's tough to gauge which schools will compete for a Big Eight Conference title. But Mirasola thinks both Sun Prairie and Madison West will be formidable foes to his team.

“I believe Madison West will certainly have a strong team and a good season, as well as Sun Prairie,” Mirasola said. “I like our chances to be right there to repeat as conference champions if we play at our best, but West would likely be the top contender.”

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