The first day of the WIAA individual state boys tennis tournament went exactly according to plan for Aidan Schutter.
For the Sun Prairie sophomore, that meant a pair of convincing victories — and the sight of some familiar foes still in the championship hunt.
“With my schedule and with being in the conference I’m in, I’ve gotten to play a lot of good guys,” Schutter said. “I’ve played all the top four seeds at the tournament. Over the course of the season, mentally and physically, I’ve gotten used to playing these guys. I think now it’s starting to pay off.”
The 10th-seeded Schutter cruised into the semifinals with wins over Neenah’s Jared Lawatsch and Racine Horlick’s Andre Antreassian on Thursday at Nielsen Tennis Stadium on what was a solid day for local Division 1 singles favorites. Second-seeded Colt Tegtmeier of Madison Memorial and third-seeded Will Tennison of Verona, the only other area players to earn a top-16 seed, also advanced easily after first-round byes.
The result against Antreassian was a pleasant surprise for Schutter, who had lost to the Horlick senior in their only other meeting.
“The table has turned, I think, and I’m very pleased with it,” Schutter said.
Schutter’s game might not be the only thing headed in a positive direction. He also suggested the strong Big Eight Conference presence in this year’s singles field could indicate the tables are turning statewide, too.
“Wisconsin high school tennis is always about the Milwaukee schools, but Madison tennis, for the next few years, is going to be really good,” Schutter said. “I’m happy to see this, and I’m happy to see that we’re out here and we’re representing.”
The Big Eight took care of business in the doubles ranks, too. Both of the conference’s seeded pairs — No. 10 seed Sam Dettman and Rafael Sanga of Middleton, and ninth-seeded Elijah Schimelpfenig of Sun Prairie — won their openers. The Sun Prairie tandem of Henri Blair and Taran Katta also advanced, as did Verona’s Jordan Hutchcroft and Vivek Swaminath.
The area’s two highest-ranked doubles teams — No. 6 James Paradisin and Austin Zellner of Waunakee, and No. 7 Andrew Zhou and Jacob Munz of Monona Grove — received first-round byes and will begin action this morning.
Local results weren’t as promising in the Division 2 singles draw. Madison Edgewood’s Hunter Dunn and Christopher Boll were both eliminated in the first round. The Crusaders — state team champions a year ago — qualified three players for the singles field, but only sixth-seeded Cecil Lingard advanced Thursday, a 6-0, 6-0 winner over East Troy’s Nick Bourdo.
“There were a few bumps in the road, obviously,” first-year Edgewood coach Lori Lukens said. “A couple of our singles players just couldn’t quite get it done today, but for them now, our focus turns to next week (and team state).”
Monroe’s Silas Setterstrom, the only other area singles player to earn a top-eight seed in Division 2, advanced with a victory over East Troy’s Vince Baxter. Sauk Prairie freshman Noah Wankerl also moved on.
One of the bright spots of the day, for Lukens anyway, came in Division 2 doubles, where Edgewood’s No. 2 team of Kurtis Thelen and first-year player Bryce Kessel scored a 6-3, 6-4 win over Baldwin-Woodville’s Matt Berg and Lennart Wesch.
“(Bryce) and Kurtis have just meshed so well as a doubles team,” Lukens said. “The improvement has been astounding throughout the season, and I feel like they’re positioned so well. They’re so laser-focused on getting the job done. I just can’t even imagine … back at the beginning of the season, I never would have thought that they would have been in this position now.
“They’re ready to go. They’re ready to go tomorrow, and they’re ready to go next week for team state.”
Edgewood’s top doubles flight, Charlie Weitz and Forrest Lynn, also advanced. Other local doubles winners included Sauk Prairie’s Parker Chrisler and Kelby Mack.