The turning point came after the second set Saturday. That’s when Sun Prairie senior Lats Sysouvanh decided it was time for a chat — with herself.
Her No. 1 singles match against DeForest sophomore Cecile Fuchs at the Dane County Invitational girls tennis tournament had turned upside down, and Sysouvanh needed to maintain composure and regain focus at the Madison La Follette courts.
“I was thinking that my sister (Dao) had won No. 1 singles in this tournament every year of her high school career,” Lats Sysouvanh said. “So, that was four years. And then last year I won it to defend our, I guess, ‘family title.’
“So I was thinking, ‘I really want to do this (and) make it the sixth year.’ Then I’m done, I’m graduated. It’s in the books.”
Sysouvanh won the third set, which was a 10-point tiebreaker, and claimed the No. 1 singles title with a 6-0, 2-6, 10-2 victory over Fuchs in the season-opening event at La Follette and East.
Sysouvanh, the defending Big Eight Conference No. 1 singles champion, hopes it’s the start of a season that winds up with a top-10 seeding in the WIAA Division 1 state individual tournament. Sysouvanh reached the round of 16 last fall.
Sysouvanh worked hard on her game and conditioning this offseason, including lessons with former University of Wisconsin men’s tennis coach Pat Klingelhoets at Cherokee Country Club.
It is the mental component that Sysouvanh said she hopes to most improve upon, after being prone in the past to getting rattled and emotional when she wasn’t playing well.
That is why Saturday’s result —and her ability to bounce back — was significant to her.
“I need to focus and not let anyone get into my head,” she said. “I’m not going to lie — that is the most composed I’ve stayed after winning the first set and then splitting (losing the second set). I know last year I struggled with the mental game. I surprised myself on the court there. I stayed calm.”
Fuchs picked up her game in the second set, pressuring Sysouvanh.
“She was hitting all the corners, the angles, everything, the lines,” Sysouvanh said. “When it got to the third set, I said, ‘I’ve got to get this together. I’m not going to lose this. The tiebreak is mine.’ ”
Fuchs’ sister, DeForest freshman Samantha Fuchs, won the No. 2 singles title with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sun Prairie freshman Lauren Hope Bruemmer.
Madison Memorial’s Julia Zhou was a 6-0, 6-2 winner over DeForest’s Leah Miller in the No. 3 singles final, helping the Spartans narrowly take the team title with 37 points. Runner-up Sun Prairie had 36½ and DeForest 36.
Monona Grove senior Amanda Newman and sophomore Hailey Munz won their three matches and claimed the No. 1 doubles crown with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Sun Prairie senior Katie Tews and sophomore Kaia Feldman.
“I felt really confident, especially in the last match,” Newman said. “Everything went our way.”
Added Munz: “We were relaxed and not holding back on our shots.”
Newman and Munz, who reached the Division 1 doubles state quarterfinals last year, each said they prefer playing as a doubles team. But Newman said they also likely will play singles during the season while Monona Grove determines its best lineup to reach WIAA team state.