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WIAA state girls tennis: Madison West's Abby Bremel

Madison West's Abby Bremel hits a shot in a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Sheboygan North's Louisa Damkot on Thursday at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.

Abby Bremel’s on-court obligations had already finished on Thursday, but the most nerve-wracking part of her day was yet to come.

“It’s exciting to watch,” the Madison West junior said of watching her twin sister, Maddi, take the court, “but it’s also ... it’s more stressful for me to watch than to play.”

Both Bremels took care of their opening-day business at the WIAA state girls individual tennis tournament, each winning a pair of Division 1 singles matches to advance to today’s third round.

But Maddi, seeded 10th in the draw, forced her stressed-out sister through a bit of second-round drama, battling though a tight first set en route to a 7-5, 6-0 victory over New Berlin Eisenhower junior Cindy Bain.

For both sisters, though, Thursday was more about working out any kinks before the competition gets tougher.

“Pretty much just try to play your own game,” Maddi Bremel (33-5) said of her early game plan. “Get through anything that’s not working today and try to fix that before tomorrow.”

Abby Bremel, seeded No. 16, opened with an easy 6-0, 6-1 win over Sheboygan North sophomore Louisa Damkot and then rallied from an early deficit to beat Whitefish Bay senior Mia Hessel 6-3, 6-2.

“Whenever I missed a shot, I just told myself to keep moving my feet,” Abby Bremel (32-6) said. “It helped me make more shots and be more consistent. I was really feeling good about my shots today.”

Also in Division 1 singles, 11th-seeded Meredith Conley (26-3) of Verona punched a third-round ticket with victories over Whitefish Bay’s Olivia Eckes and Beaver Dam’s Morgan Nelson.

No. 12-seeded Hailey Munz (23-9) of Monona Grove opened play with a tough 2-6, 6-2 (6) win over New Richmond’s Mia Bakke, and then cruised into the third round with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Green Bay Notre Dame’s Jacqueline Brady.

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In Division 1 doubles, Jessica Pientka and Noor Rajpal (26-8), Middleton’s 12th-seeded tandem, advanced to today’s second round with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Kelly Muehlenkamp and Alle Lewis of Mukwanago.

In Division 2, the Lake Mills duo of Junior Julianna Wagner and sophomore Gabby Mahr (24-3) held off West Salem’s Julia Krien and Josie Lajuenesse to secure a second-day spot.

“We were in a groove,” Mahr said of the 6-2, 6-3 victory. “And I feel like, tomorrow, we’ll be even more settled in (on) the court and not be as nervous.”

Fellow L-Cats doubles players Mia Kroll and Makaylah Legel had a tougher draw, overcoming an anxious first set to defeat Barron’s Jada Brunkow and Phoebe Jerome 1-6, 6-4 (6) and run their season record to 28-0.

“One of the biggest challenges at state is getting over the nerves,” Kroll said. “Second set, our on-switch turned on and we played our game.”

Said Legel: “We started playing more offensive and aggressively, rather than defensively and scared.”

After back-to-back Capitol South Conference championships and a season that saw five players earn state berths, the L-Cats are confident they’ve finally elevated the tennis program past “afterthought” status.

“It was always competitive, but I think a lot of girls did it for fun,” Legel said of the previous atmosphere around the Lake Mills program. “As a tennis team, we were kind of like the forgotten sport. Not this year.”

In other doubles action, the sixth-seeded Watertown Luther Prep tandem of Alethia Schmidt and Abigail Schewe suffered its first loss of the year, falling in its opener against Kylie McCormick and Carly Bomier of Appleton Xavier 4-6, 6-2 (4).

Bucky!

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