The Big Foot/Williams Bay girls tennis team doesn’t want to pick on schools its own size.
In less than a month, the ChiefDogs will be making the jump to Division 1 for the WIAA postseason.
Facing a team like Janesville Craig allows Big Foot/Williams Bay to test itself against a much larger school and to scout players it could see again at the Badger Subsectional on Oct. 7.
Both teams got a good look at each other Monday.
The ChiefDogs swept all three doubles matches and Jameson Gregory added a victory at No. 2 singles to push the visitors to a 4-3 nonconference dual win over the Cougars at Palmer Park.
“The whole middle of our season is Division 2 schools, but … playing teams like Craig and Elkhorn and Lake Geneva are really good challenges for us,” Big Foot/Williams Bay coach Adam Westhauser said. “We have to play teams who are going to be in our sectional or are going to be in Division 1, just to get a taste of that.”
The switch to doubles has been a productive one for Big Foot/Williams Bay senior Clare Heckert, who advanced to the state tournament as a sophomore but couldn’t repeat because an elbow injury cut her junior campaign short.
She and playing partner Emily Gauger have yet to lose while playing with each other this season. They picked up a 6-1, 6-2 win over Craig’s Jordyn Schroeder and Allison Grund on Monday.
Heckert tried playing doubles early last season before she was sidelined.
“She tested it out a little bit last year, and this year, definitely, the plan was, ‘Let’s try not to nurse the injury and not put as much strain on it,’” Westhauser said.
“She is such a strong singles player, but I think she knew from the beginning this is probably going to be better long-term.”
Heckert also already had a rapport with Gauger, whom she had played with outside of school.
“I love it. I’m a lefty and she’s a righty—that’s a doubles dream come true,” Heckert said. “It’s been fun and we’ve been doing really well.”
After Craig’s Aiko Wolf finished off a 6-1, 6-4 win at No. 3 singles to tie Monday’s dual at three wins apiece, the final outcome hinged on the No. 2 doubles match between Big Foot/William Bay’s Annie Rowe and Keaton Sperling and Craig’s Autmun Tullar and Madison Denu.
Tullar and Denu rallied from a first-set loss to force a tiebreaker, but Rowe and Sperling scored a 6-4, 3-6, 10-2 victory to clinch the dual for Big Foot/Williams Bay.
“Once that tiebreaker started and they focused on what they needed to do, it just started rolling,” Westhauser said of Rowe and Sperling’s win. “You could see the tiebreaker start to snowball.”
The ChiefDogs have yet to drop a Rock Valley Conference dual, and if they can successfully navigate today’s dual against Jefferson, they would meet also-unbeaten East Troy on Thursday—with the league’s regular-season title on the line.
Craig’s Kerington Sauser cruised past Hannah Palmer, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 1 singles to boost her season record to 7-4.
“Some points were disappointing, but I definitely played better than I had the past few matches,” Sauser said. “I worked a lot this weekend on improving my ground strokes and being more consistent. I was really able to move her around today.”
“Kerington’s win was exceptionally good,” Craig coach Pamela Clutson said. “She’s been great at recovering from anything that wasn’t going her way. She’s been like that all year. She has found ways to win when something isn’t working.”
Gregory topped Craig’s Lucia Hyzer 6-4, 6-1 at No. 2 singles, and Craig’s Myrka Ceballos beat Morgan Berg 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4 singles.
Big Foot/Williams Bay’s Katie Kirschlager and Hanah Nordmeyer won 6-1, 6-3 over Sage Baumeister and Brooke Pehl at No. 3 doubles.
Craig is about to begin the most difficult part of its regular-season schedule, with Big Eight Conference duals against Madison West (Thursday), Middleton (next Tuesday) and Madison Memorial (next Thursday—all ranked in the top 10 in Division 1—coming in the next week.
“We’ve got the big three coming next,” Clutson said.
BIG FOOT/WILLIAMS BAY 4, JANESVILLE CRAIG 3
Singles—Kerington Sauser (JC) def. Hannah Palmer 6-1, 6-0; Jameson Gregory (BFWB) def. Lucia Hyzer 6-4, 6-1; Aiko Wolf (JC) def. Casey Kirschlager 6-1, 6-4; Myrka Ceballos (JC) def. Morgan Berg 6-2, 6-2.
Doubles—Emily Gauger/Clare Heckert (BFWB) def. Jordyn Schroeder/Allison Grund 6-1, 6-2; Annie Rowe/Keaton Sperling (BFWB) def. Autumn Tullar/Madison Denu 6-4, 3-6, 10-2; Katie Kirschlager/Hanah Nordmeyer (BFWB) def. Sage Baumeister/Brooke Pehl 6-1, 6-3.