Janesville’s state tennis trio traveling together
The WIAA state tennis meet will be a group experience for the local competitors.
Janesville Parker singles player Matt Knutson and the Janesville Craig doubles team of Stewart Winter and Mo McCrone will travel together to the state meet that opens today at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium,
The three players and their coaches will travel in a district vehicle to Madison.
Knutson has traveled the route before.
The Viking senior played in the Division 1 state tournament last season and will conclude his high school career in this year’s meet.
Knutson also knows his first-round opponent.
Knutson and his coach, Mike Fuhrmann, obviously hope the familiarity results in a first-round victory today.
Knutson takes an 18-8 record into the Division 1 singles competition. He opens against Big Eight Conference opponent Jimmy Storck of Madison West at 2 p.m. Storck is 11-10.
“He’s beat this kid before,” Fuhrmann said Wednesday. “He’s a very tough opponent, but Matt played well against him, and he’s hoping to repeat that.”
Knutson defeated Storck when Parker played West during the Big Eight season. If he can duplicate that success, it will be the first state tournament win for Knutson, who lost in last year’s first round.
“Last year was a really new experience for all of us,” Fuhrmann said. “It was my first year as coach, and his first time at state. It was a great experience for everybody.
“This year he has a different mindset going into this,” Fuhrmann said. “He’s ready to roll.”
If Knutson defeats Storck, he will play another known opponent, Big Eight champion Stratton Gilmore of Madison East. Gilmore is the No. 5 seed in Division 1 with a 16-0 record, which earned him a first-round bye.
Gilmore defeated Knutson during the regular season.
Fuhrmann said Knutson has developed a better game during his senior season.
“The biggest thing is his confidence and consistency,” Fuhrmann said. “He’s always been a big hitter. But he’s struggled against players that were good at hitting it back.
“Now he has confidence in his game, and is good at getting on the attack.”
Winter and McCrone will be the first to represent Craig at state meet in at least six years. The Cougar seniors open against Fort Atkinson’s Jacob Starkweather and Marc Dahnert in a 5 p.m. match today.
“This is their first year they’re playing together, and they’ve had a good year,” Craig coach Justin Long said of Winter and McCrone. “They’re playing well right now and are excited to be representing their school.”
Starkweather and Dahnert are 17-6 after taking third place in the Oconomowoc Sectional. Winter and McCrone take an 11-10 record into the opening match after placing fourth in the Badger Sectional.
“We’re going into with the mindset of taking it one match at time,” Long said.
Lake Geneva Badger senior Dean Schwefel (16-2) and Beloit Memorial senior Perry Campbell (12-13), who became an extra qualifier after losing in the quarterfinals of the Badger Sectional, will join Knutson as Division 1 singles competitors.
Schwefel, who won the Southern Lakes Conference championship and is making his third state appearance, takes on Homestead freshman Danny Coran (23-4) at 5 p.m. today. Campbell draws Brookfield Central senior Jack Michael (18-4), also an extra qualifier, in a 2 p.m. match. The winner faces top-seeded defending champion Alex Jesse (26-1) in the second round.
Badger also will be represented in Division 1 by its once-beaten doubles team of Matt Heinz and Reid Solheim (16-1). The senior standouts, who were sectional runners-up, have a 6 p.m. match against Josh Blumenfeld and Ahmed Abdelhameed (8-10) of Madison Memorial.
Along with Jesse, Michael Roden and Matt Reagan (23-1) of Eau Claire Memorial in doubles head into the Division 1 field as No. 1 seeds.
Walworth Big Foot/Williams Bay freshman Adam Kolnik leads the area competitors in the Division 2 singles competition.
Kolnik takes a 17-4 record into his 6:30 p.m. match today against Ashland senior Juan Gasque (9-1).
Whitewater’s Ian Stone also starts his singles competition tonight. Stone (10-10) plays Plymouth senior Nathan Bachmann (11-5) at 7:30.
East Troy’s Matt Hotz and Tucker Braunschweig take a 15-4 record into their opening Division 2 doubles match against Plymouth’s Aaron Cantleberry and Stevens Blend. Cantleberry and Blend have a 9-5 record.
The top seeds for Division 2 are Andrew Hwang (18-7) of Milwaukee University School in singles, Cameron Fiebig and Justin Kaiser (20-0) of Appleton Xavier in doubles.