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Mixing up the doubles
Gwen Sutter returns a volley during the 35th annual Monroe City Mixed Doubles Tournament this past weekend. Sutter and Jakob Baertschi lost in the semifinals.
MONROE - Joe Soddy and Kate Shuda played doubles in high school, but never as partners.

Soddy, a 2004 Monroe graduate, and Shuda, a 2006 graduate, teamed up to win the City Mixed Doubles Tournament Sunday. Soddy and Shuda went 3-0 in the tournament and won the championship match by defeating Dan Hager and Kelsey Erickson 6-2, 6-1 at Recreation Park.

"We both played doubles in high school so it wasn't new to us," Shuda said, who just graduated from the University of Wisconsin with economics and political science degrees.

"We both had the same coach," Soddy said.

Shuda didn't have big expectations for the tournament.

"I didn't even know who was playing," she said. "I didn't know what to expect."

The mixed doubles championship for Soddy comes on the heels of the doubles title he won with Dan Bartholf three weeks ago. Soddy and Bartholf have won four of the last five doubles titles.

Jim Bartholf, former Monroe tennis coach and the tournament's director, said the unique format of the mixed doubles tournament keeps the playing field competitive.

"I think one of the key spots is the woman," Bartholf said. "It depends on how good your female partner is. It's the girls that kind of dominate this tournament. How good your female partner is will determine how much success you have."

Soddy, an education major at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, said that despite the tournament format the objective is clear.

"It's still doubles," he said. "We try to keep it in at the baseline and get to the net."

Soddy and Shuda won their first match Saturday defeating Christian Noriega and Emily Grossen 6-4, 6-1. The championship duo followed that up by beating Jakob Baertschi and Gwen Sutter 7-5, 6-1 in the semifinals.

"You could tell in that first match we had some things to iron out," Soddy said.

Artem Beer and Kristin McArdle went 2-1 in the tournament and defeated Baertschi and Sutter in a third place match 6-3, 6-0.

Noriega and Grossen bounced back from a quarterfinal loss to Soddy and Shuda. Noriega and Grossen won the consolation match by defeating Willie Noriega and Jessica Noriega in three sets 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.