Prep girls tennis photo: Monona Grove's Amanda Newman

Monona Grove senior Amanda Newman and her No. 1 doubles partner, sophomore Hailey Munz, won the Badger South Conference tournament and take a 24-0 record into the postseason after advancing to the WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinal round last year.

AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

One is a senior; one is a sophomore.

When they first met and started playing together, one was 10 years old and the other was 8.

One prefers to prowl the baseline; the other is always ready to approach the net.

Both played singles, at the behest of their coach, until they were able to convince him about a year ago that they’d be even better playing together as a doubles combo.

The rest has been history — in the making.

Senior Amanda Newman and sophomore Hailey Munz are off to a 24-0 start this season as Monona Grove’s No. 1 doubles pair.

As they gear up for today’s Stoughton subsectional and a hopeful spot in Wednesday’s Oconomowoc sectional, Newman and Munz are calm, collected and comfortable.

“We get along really well. We would love to play 10 more matches,” Munz said, referring to a long run at the WIAA state tournament.

The two have known each other since their parents — who have been longtime friends — started bringing them both to Cherokee Country Club for lessons and open play.

“When I was 10, we played together in a club tournament in Indianapolis and that went well,” Newman said. “So when Hailey joined the (Monona Grove) team last year, it was pretty mutual that we wanted to play doubles. But Coach was against it.”

That’s because Silver Eagles coach John Willauer was thinking about the Badger Conference race. It’s hard to dispute Willauer’s reasoning: Two team points — earned if both Newman and Munz won singles matches — counts for more than the single point they would gain by winning one doubles match.

“Last year, I did split them up for (conference) dual matches, but I played them in doubles for tournaments,” Willauer said. “And they wound up making a really nice run.”

Newman and Munz took third in a loaded doubles field at the Badger Conference tournament last year, and then won the Lake Geneva Badger sectional and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WIAA Division 1 state individual tournament.

They lost a quarterfinal to eventual third-place finishers Frankie La Londe and Sasha Shasis of Mequon Homestead, 6-3, 6-3, to finish 15-2.

This year, they’ve played doubles all the way, winning each of their matches in straight sets. And Willauer said their play has given the Silver Eagles an unexpected bonus in conference duals.

“With them at doubles, it makes my entire doubles lineup strong,” Willauer said. “A lot of times, we win all three doubles matches, and then we only have to win one (of four) singles matches to win a dual. But my singles players have all gotten strong and made huge improvements, too.

“They’re positive, hard-working in practice, and they make the whole team better.”

Familiarity has been a big plus of the Newman-Munz pairing, but both say each player’s game complements the other’s.

“I’m more comfortable at the baseline, and she’s more comfortable at the net,” Newman said. “I used to always just lob it and let Hailey handle the shots at the net. But I’ve been getting more aggressive this year.”

“They do anticipate each other’s decisions on the court,” Willauer said. “Amanda was not rock-solid with her net play last year, but she has worked on it. … She can hit ground strokes with anybody, but now she’s more confident at the net.”

That progress and familiarity has expectations high as the postseason begins.

“If the girls keep playing the way they are capable of playing,” Willauer said, “they have a shot at a real deep run.”

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Wisconsin State Journal prep sports editor Art Kabelowsky has traversed the state to cover sports while working for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Baraboo.