Four times, Middleton senior Maddie Clark qualified in doubles for the WIAA Division 1 state girls tennis tournament.
Four times, Clark came to state with a new partner.
On Saturday, the top-seeded team of Clark and sophomore Karsen Dettman reached the doubles championship match against a familiar foe at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
They came up short of a state title, dropping a 6-3, 6-2 decision to second-seeded Annabelle Crowley and Emma Koppa, Glendale Nicolet seniors on a mission of their own. Crowley and Koppa hugged in celebration. Clark found the moment bittersweet.
“I feel like after four years on the team I’m just really glad this is the way we ended,” said the left-handed Clark, whose best finish had been in the round of 16 last year. “Playing Nicolet was one of the best outcomes we could have had if we couldn’t have won. I was really proud of Karsen and really proud of myself. All the support we’ve gotten from friends, parents and coaches was great and it was one of the best things that could have happened.”
The meeting with the Nicolet pair was the third this season for Clark and Dettman (26-2), who finished 1-2 against Crowley and Koppa (29-3).
“We knew how they played,” Dettman said. “We were hoping we could take away the net, but they kind of took it away from us. We were always on defense. When we did get to the net, we tended to win the points.”
The Middleton duo was seeking to add another state doubles title after the Cardinals’ Abbey Webber and Kaisey Skibba earned the Division 1 crown in 2015. But Dettman and Clark ran into a buzz saw against Koppa and Crowley, who finished fifth as a team last year. The hard-hitting and athletic Crowley placed second with Elise Gerard in 2015 and 2016.
“They played really well,” Clark said. “I think they were really aggressive at the net. They were dominating throughout the whole match and they always kept working to finish points.”
Dettman and Clark advanced with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Manitowoc’s 12th-seeded Allyson Verbauwhede and sophomore Kendra Peterson in the semifinal.
“I’m really glad I got to experience this because I’m not sure if I will get this opportunity again,” Dettman said. “I’m sad Maddie is a senior because next year I think we would have been really great together.”
Racine Case’s Bojana Pozder (39-0), the first freshman to be named the top seed in Division 1 singles since 2008, capped an undefeated season. She defeated second-seeded Logan White (30-3) of Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels 6-2, 6-0 in the championship match.
Madison Memorial junior Grace Olson (26-4), seeded fourth, dropped a 6-2, 6-2 decision to eighth-seeded Sabrina Tang, a senior from Stevens Point, in the consolation round.
Madison Edgewood sophomore Baluck Deang, the fifth seed, finished fourth.
Top-seeded Olivia Czerwonka of Kenosha St. Joseph earned a 6-0, 6-1 singles semifinal victory over Deang, who fell to 0-4 in high school against Czerwonka.
“She’s really good,” Deang said.
“We’ve played her before and she has a lot of weapons,” Edgewood coach Alex Mory. “She is a very multidimensional player. … She was not giving away many opportunities today. Baluck played a great match, too.”
University School of Milwaukee senior Veda Sane, the third seed, later claimed a 6-1, 5-7, 6-0 victory over Deang (21-7) in the third-place match. Deang said she will learn from her matches and use the state tournament as a springboard for next season.
Wausau Newman sophomore Mia Larrain (32-1), the No. 2 seed, topped Czerwonka (21-1) in the title match 7-5, 6-2. Top-seeded Giana Apostoli and Megan Setter (22-0), seniors from Kenosha St. Joseph, earned a 6-1, 6-0 decision over Racine Prairie School’s Sarah Gesner and Hailey Stoltenberg (22-7) for the doubles title.
Madison Edgewood’s eighth-seeded doubles team of senior Kinsey Kessel and junior Lizzie Drake (17-12) dropped a 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-1 decision to fifth-seeded Grace Watkins and Grace Gridley of University School in the consolation round.