Even as he clinched his team’s berth into the state semifinals, Luca Willauer’s mind was on the next court over.
“I think our No. 2 doubles is going to pull it off,” the Madison West junior said after delivering a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Wales Kettle Moraine’s Joey Neimon in a WIAA Division 1 team state quarterfinal Friday at Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
And then, almost as an afterthought:
“But, I mean, it still feels good to get the fourth win.”
It has been that kind of postseason for the Regents, who, despite their happy-to-be-here attitude, turned in a convincing 6-1 win over Kettle Moraine to advance to the state semifinals for just the second time in program history.
“I guess they were excited to come out here and play, and they carried that through and did it,” West coach John Braxler said. “Based on the results we could find, it looked like it would be close because they were strong in the same places we were. It could have easily gone the other way if they were down on themselves. But they weren’t, so it’s nice.”
In fact, Willauer’s hasty dispatch of Neimon mirrored the Regents’ start as a team. Quinlan Gallagher gave West a 1-0 lead with a 50-minute, straight-set victory over Peter Wawrzyn at No. 3 singles. Just eight minutes later, the Regents had the Lasers on the brink of elimination. Andrew Glasgow and the doubles duo of Theodore Scheckel and Gavin Frings closed out matches in less than an hour. By the time the top flights took the court, the outcome had been decided.
“I’m kind of speechless about it,” Braxler said of the victory, which marks the first state semifinal berth of his seven-year tenure. The Regents’ only other semifinal appearance came in 2008.
Braxler’s surprise is understandable given his team’s late-season surge. The Regents came in tied for the most losses of any state qualifier, and their regular-season conference finish — fourth in the Big Eight — was lowest in the field.
“I guess the team has really come together at the end of the season,” Willauer said. “Better late than never.”
The road gets significantly tougher from here, with a semifinal match against two-time defending champion Milwaukee Marquette — which already has beaten West twice this season.
“Marquette’s beat up on us pretty badly in the past,” Braxler said. “Our hope is to make a good showing against them.”
“(Our goal is to) have fun; that’s all you can do,” he said. “If you have fun and win, great. If you have fun and lose, you still had fun, right?”
Milwaukee Marquette 7, Mequon Homestead 0
The Hilltoppers swept the Highlanders as just the No. 2 match went to a third set. Seniors John Massart and Ethan Mardanus-Budiono, who won the individual state title last week, won at No. 1 doubles.
Neenah 6, Hartland Arrowhead 1
Seniors Grant Mauthe and Carter Brown, who finished third in last week’s individual state meet, won at No. 1 doubles to help lead the Rockets.
Eau Claire Memorial 6, Green Bay Southwest 1
Southwest’s Johnny Zakowski won at No. 1 singles, but the Old Abes swept the other matches to move on.