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Monroe finishes in third
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LAKE GENEVA - The Cheesemakers finished third as a team at the WIAA Girls Division 1 Badger Tennis Sectional.

"Across the board, the girls were aggressive and played really well," Monroe head coach Stephanie Miller said. "As a team, we finished closer to first place than we ever have."

The top scoring team in the sectional advances to state. Monroe (30 total points) trailed Janesville Craig (33) and Fort Atkinson (39).

Monroe's No. 1 singles tandem of Ashley Hermanson and Kelsey Erickson finished in third place, but still managed to qualify for state. The duo, which holds a 19-2 record this season, defeated Sun Prairie's Paige Elding and Natasha Zuelzke, 6-0, 6-3, in the opening match Wednesday. In the second match, the pair fell to Rebecca Mixtacki and Renee Nelson of Madison LaFollette, 7-5, 6-4, but recovered to upend Madison East's Nellie Mitchell and Anna Spiekerman, 6-3, 6-4.

"My first impression of those two playing together was at a doubles tournament early in the season," Miller said. "They were facing a pretty good doubles team and just dominated them. One of the parents turned and said to me, 'They can make it to state.'"

When they are on their game, they are unstoppable, Miller said of her top pair.

Monroe's No. 3 doubles team of Taylor Weis and McKenzie Bruce continued their unlikely late-season surge, finishing in second place at the sectional.

The duo, which was unranked heading into the Badger Conference Tournament two weeks ago before winning it all, defeated Madison LaFollette's Laurel Szalkowski and Emilee Verhage, 6-3, 6-2, in the first round.

"Those two struggled towards the end of the dual season. But once we hit tournament play, they have been awesome. They have been the comeback team, beating everyone that beat them throughout the season. I'm happy the way they stepped up and played," Miller said.

In the second round, the pair, which finished with a 19-16 record, lost to Janesville Craig's Ciarra Sroda and Minaliza Shahlapour, 6-2, 6-2.

Also finishing in third place was the No. 2 doubles team of Gwen Sutter and Emily Grossen, as well as No. 2 singles Ellie Shuda and No. 4 singles Lily Priewe.

Sutter and Grossen (19-3) lost in the first round, 6-4, 6-2, to Monona Grove's Nicole Hildebrandt and Alyssa Strangstalien. In the second round, the pair knocked off LaFollette's Monica Ripp and Anna Burant, 6-0, 6-4.

Shuda lost in the opening round, 6-3, 6-0, to Olivia Harwick of Fort Atkinson, but knocked off Madison East's Heidi Theil, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, to end her season with an overall record of 18-7.

Priewe, 13-6 in her first varsity season, lost to LaFollette's Clare Gloede, 6-3, 6-1, in the first round, but trumped Janesville Craig's Sarah Gray 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, in the second round.

Monroe's top singles player, Kristin McArdle, lost her only match of the day to LaFollette's Hannah Martin, 7-6(2), 6-2. McArdle still has a shot at making it to state via the special qualifier rule. The seeding committee will look at all of those athletes who didn't qualify and will give an open seed at the state tournament to a player who was highly seeded yet failed to win the sectional.

The state tournament starts Thursday, Oct. 15.