October 17, 2019
By Scott Williams
MADISON – The clock indicated it was late Thursday afternoon, but apparently Wausau West junior standout Natasha Bailey needed a wake-up call.
Brookfield Central senior Elianne Del Campo gave the No. 8 seed at the WIAA Division 1 state tennis tournament just that by stealing the first set of their second round match.
Once Del Campo got her attention, Bailey raised the level of her play significantly and overpowered Del Campo over the final two sets to advance to the round of 16 with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
Bailey (30-3) advances to face ninth-seeded Grace Sueflohn (31-5) of Kettle Moraine, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Muskego’s Michelle Pan.
The round of 16 match is set for 10:30 a.m. Friday with a spot in the state quarterfinals at stake.
Also competing in the round of 32 was her West teammate Lilia Teske. She found the going even tougher against Emmerson White (34-0) of Divine Savior Holy Angels,
Teske, who mounted a dramatic rally to overcome Jamie Gebhardt of Homestead in a super tiebreaker in the opening round 5-7, 6-4 (10-4), never found a rhythm in her match with White.
The 15th-seeded freshman from DSHA handed Teske a convincing 6-1, 6-0 setback and ended her season with a 27-4 record.
It’s a credit to Teske just to reach the second round. Gebhardt won the final two games to take the opening set and carried the momentum over to the second set and grabbed a quick 3-0 lead to leave Teske in a big hole.
Teske never flinched and bounced back to win the next two games to close within 3-2 and eventually close out the second set.
The talented No. 2 singles player for the Warriors, who would be the top player on a lot of teams, Teske then took control of the decisive tiebreaker to advance.
The dream of a state title remains alive for Wausau East’s top doubles team of senior Zoe Briquelet Miller and Lee Ratanawong, a junior.
Ratanawong and Briquelet Miller (18-3) cruised to a 6-3, 6-1 victory over New Richmond’s Katey Eickhoff and Teresa Tenner to earn a spot in the second round.
Briquelet Miller and Ratanawong are scheduled to face top-seeded Lauren Sobieski and Maddie Toboyek (27-0) of Muskego at 9 a.m. Friday.
Meanwhile, the road to a state championship hit a major roadblock in the opening round for Wausau East senior Savannah Carroll.
Despite a great start Thursday, Carroll dropped a 6-2, 6-1 decision to Brookfield East senior Lizzie Adams.
Carroll jumped out to an early 2-1 lead on Adams before things quickly went downhill. Adams ran off five straight games to take the first set.
Adams continued to make life tough on Carroll in the second set. The Spartans standout won the opening three games and went on to oust Carroll from the state tournament.
Carroll concluded her season with an 18-11 record. Adams (17-12) faced sixth-seeded Autumn Bruno (22-1) of Whitnall in the second round.
The news wasn’t any better for West’s doubles team of Katie Meyer and Malory Names, who ran into Wisconsin Valley Conference nemesis Meghan DeBot and Anna Hlavac of SPASH.
Names and Meyer hung tough early in the first set but suffered a couple late breaks of serve and wound on the short end of a 6-3, 6-0 verdict to end their season at 10-7.
Newman Catholic sophomore Becky Larrain looked every bit of the No. 6 seed in the state tournament in her opening match Thursday night.
In addition, the Cardinals’ Ali Bennett also played the part of a seeded state tennis player, at least for one set.
Larrain (24-7) earned the right to keep the Division 2 state championship in the family with a relatively easy 6-2, 6-3 win over Kiel’s Kaytlyn Hartfield in the round of 32.
Mia Larrain claimed the state singles title in 20-18.
Bennett had every reason to believe she would be joining Becky Larrain in the next round.
The Newman Catholic senior won the first set from eighth-seeded Taylor Vyskocil of Ashland and jumped out to a big lead in the second set.
As it turned out Vyskocil was having none of Bennett’s upset bid.
The Oredocker senior came charging back to take the second set in a tiebreaker and capped off the comeback by prevailing over Bennett 10-2 in the third-set super-tiebreaker.
The season-ending loss left Bennett 19-6 on the season.