On paper, the matchup provided a fitting bookend for the Madison Edgewood boys tennis team’s season.
Unfortunately, for the Crusaders, their encore with Racine Prairie — the same team that handed them a season-opening loss more than two months ago — looked an awful lot like the original.
The Hawks got the better of Edgewood in nearly every matchup Saturday afternoon, recording a 6-1 victory at Nielsen Tennis Stadium to capture their first WIAA Division 2 state team championship and deny the Crusaders’ quest for a repeat.
“We got here,” first-year Edgewood coach Lori Lukens said. “Our goal was to get back and defend our title. We (got back), we just weren’t able to pull it off.”
It was a day of mixed emotions for Lukens’ team, back at the state tournament for the 14th consecutive year — including what is now eight runner-up finishes.
On Saturday morning, Edgewood cruised to a 7-0 semifinal sweep of East Troy. Each set was a straight-set victory, as East Troy’s seven entries took a total of 15 games from the Crusaders.
“We were trying not to focus on the outcome of the other match while we were still playing our first match,” Lukens said. “We were taking care of business there, on all of our courts. And we did.”
When it came to the title match though, Racine Prairie was simply too talented. The Hawks proved their 5-2 win over Edgewood in April was no fluke, overpowering the Crusaders again despite a season’s worth of growth and lineup tweaks.
“You have to play whoever is on the other side of the net,” Lukens said. “You can’t be focused on, “Oh, are they good? Are they this? Are they that?’ Well, yeah, they’re good. It’s team state.”
Despite the loss, Lukens still considered her debut season at the Edgewood helm a success.
“I feel like there’s a lot of stuff to be proud of that happened today,” she said. “I can’t be disappointed in how any of the boys played. I’m so proud of them all for playing hard.”
The lone Edgewood victory came at No. 2 doubles, where senior Bryce Kessel and junior Kurtis Thelen defeated Dino Tousis and Lucas Goelz, 7-6 (4), 7-5. Both top-flight matches were close early, but slipped away from the Crusaders in the straight sets.
“A lot of us didn’t play our personal bests,” senior No. 1 singles player Cecil Lingard said. “But it’s still great to be here. We’re happy to make it here. We started the season not thinking we were going to make it at all.”
Milwaukee Marquette 7, Madison West 0
Another state berth that seemed improbable earlier in the season came to an end Saturday morning, as eventual Division 1 champ Milwaukee Marquette swept Madison West 7-0 in a semifinal.
“For us, we seem to be a little under them almost every year — and majorly under them other years,” West coach John Braxler said of the Hilltoppers, who defeated Neenah 5-2 to clinch their third consecutive state title.
“It would be nice to take matches off them some year in the future.”
West managed to win only 10 games across seven matches against Marquette.
In the final, Neenah’s Jackson Atassi won a three-set match over Joel Pan at No. 1 singles, and Marquette swept the doubles matches.