Homestead has just enough depth to pull away for fifth North Shore tennis title
Nicolet second, Bay third
Nicolet boys tennis coach Tim Koppa was looking for an underdog, someone not out of his top tier of players to rise up and help emotionally pull his team along in the North Shore Conference Tournament on May 16 and 17.
And though Calin Dumitrescu (25-3) did win second singles in impressive fashion, Koppa never did find that inspiration and had to settle for second in the final standings.
That's because Homestead found its way back to the top of the standings for a fifth straight year with the help of a strong leader, as Danny Coran (18-3) made the tough move up from second singles to first, fought off various small maladies that dogged him earlier in the season and won his class to lead the Highlanders to the tournament and overall league title.
Coran was one of four flight champions for the Highlanders who wound up with a total of 123 points as Nicolet was second with 115 and Whitefish Bay, which claimed the top two doubles' spots, was third with 98.
Nicolet has ups, downs
"It came down the fact that we had a really good Thursday and a really bad Friday," Koppa said. "Bay got two of those finals, Homestead four and we had only that one. We just needed that one guy who was not supposed to do anything to win and bring everyone along with him."
Meanwhile, Bay coach Phil Kelbe was happy with his squad's efforts, noting that the championships won the by Matt Kavanagh and Graham Martens at first doubles (21-1) and Andy Krugler and John Burns (20-2) at second doubles were almost historic in nature.
"Number one, they're seniors and that's always a good thing, and number two, it has been a long, long time since Bay has won first and second doubles titles in a conference tournament," he said. "It goes back to well before I was coaching. It's a tough conference and a great accomplishment. I'm very happy for them."
All three teams are in WIAA sectional competition this week, sending qualifiers to the individual state tournament in Madison, May 30-June 1.
Homestead's individual titles were impressive. Coran didn't drop a game in his first two matches before downing Nicolet's Kevin Ballecer, 6-2, 6-2, in the finals.
Aaron Rempel (22-3) at third singles had a first round bye and then cruised past a Germantown opponent before easing past Nicolet's Mike Yarmulnik in the final, 6-4, 7-6.
At fourth singles, Danny Wichman (19-4) had a tough quarterfinal match with a Germantown opponent but then cruised past a Cedarburg opponent (6-0, 6-0) and then the Knights' Rafi Barash 6-3, 6-1, for his crown.
Then at third doubles, the Highlanders pair of Daniel Kleytman and Jason Jesse, earned a forfeit and then beat a Germantown duo and then Bay's Jonathan Hirst and Will Hansen, 6-3, 6-4, for its title.
Bay's doubles' titles were impressive. Kavanagh and Martens were only the third seed but cruised past a Cedarburg team before overwhelming Homestead Adam Bodner and Peter Apfelbach, 6-4, 6-1; before downing Nicolet's top seed Sam Berman and Ben Levey, 6-1, 6-4, in the final.
Krugler and Burns were the top seed at second doubles and dropped only four games all told in three matches in impressively taking their title.
Mental toughness a big factor
Kelbe said that the two duos should do well at state,
"I think they have the skill set to advance and go long in the tourney," he said. "It'll be how they handle the mental part of things that determines how far they go.
"... This is a very big deal."
Nicolet's Dumitrescu didn't lose a game in his first two matches and then had the unusual circumstances of a walkover in the championship match with Homestead's Will Kammerait because Kammerait was out of town for his brother's wedding.
"We were battling Bay most of the day and competed pretty well against them," Koppa said, "but at the end, we weren't really in a lot of those matches.
STATE ACTION: Homestead advanced all seven entries out of the WIAA Cedarburg subsectional and took part in sectional play at Brookfield Central on Wednesday.
Nicolet advanced six entries and Bay three out of the power Marquette subsectional and took part in sectional play at Greenfield on Thursday.
The first four finishers in flight one of singles and doubles and the winners of flight two in singles and doubles, advance to the state individual tournament, May 30-June 1.
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