Parker's Theisen, Zeilinger look to cap sucessful season
Maddie Theisen and Kristin Zeilinger's remarkable ride will come to an end at some point this week.
Hopefully for the Vikings, it's Saturday and not today.
The Janesville Parker seniors, who form the school's No. 1 doubles team, have qualified for the WIAA Division 1 individual state tennis tournament for the third straight year. The duo opens up the tournament today against Elena Ouimet and Jackie Comerford of Whitefish Bay at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.
Theisen and Zeilinger are 29-1 on the season, while today's opponent brings a 9-11 record.
Despite qualifying for state the last two years, Theisen and Zeilinger have not made it out of the first round. Parker coach Justin Long believes that will change this time.
"Maddie and Kristen are playing each and every shot with a purpose now because they know this is it for them," Long said. "Making it to Friday is their first goal. They want to, and I think they will, get that monkey off their back that comes with losing in the first round the last two years.
"This season couldn't have gone any better for them than it has," Long said. "They had that one hiccup at the (Big Eight) conference meet, but they learned from that and are playing very well right now."
Theisen and Zeilinger have been Parker's No. 1 team since their freshman year. The two have a 72-31 career record and have shown steady improvement each year. They were 8-14 as freshmen, 14-10 as sophomores and 21-6 as juniors. They're the 16th seed in a tough Division 1 bracket.
"Those two have bought into what we've tried to teach them," Long said. "But the biggest reason for their success is their dedication to the sport.
"They both play other sports, but they knew they had to devote as much time to tennis as they could to be the best they could. That's why they've seen the positive results."
Positive results that Theisen and Zeilinger hope carry on to Saturday.
Two other area doubles teams will compete in Division 1. Milton senior Marianne Moser and junior Elizabeth Murphy will take an 8-2 record into their opening-round match, while Lake Geneva Badger's team of senior Riely Mikrut and junior Lily Fisher takes a 13-3 record into the state meet.
Fort Atkinson's Brianna Jackson, a sophomore, qualified with a 20-4 record in Division 1 singles, and Elkhorn senior Bryanne Blanton takes a 23-4 record into her D1 opening-round match.
In Division 2 doubles, East Troy seniors Taylor Balcerowski and Olivia Prahl take a 16-10 record into tonight's opening-round match, and Walworth Big Foot/Williams Bay freshman Annie McGrail and senior Lauren Speare are 10-3 going into their first-round match.
Big Foot/Williams Bay senior Liz McGrail is 20-3 as a Division 2 singles qualifier, and Whitewater senior Hannah Runez is 23-6 as a state qualifier in Division 2. It will be the second straight tournament appearance for Runez and fourth for McGrail, who played in Illinois state compeition for Rockford Guilford the last three years.
JUST THE FACTS
What: WIAA Division 1 and Division 2 girls individual state tennis tournament.
Where: Nielsen Tennis Stadium, Madison.
When: Today, first-round singles and doubles, 2 p.m.; Friday, singles and doubles through quarterfinals, 8:30 a.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. semifinals, with final to follow.
Format: Seeded, single elimination.
Defending champions: None returning.
Top seeds: Division 1—Maddie Johnson (Onalaska), singles; Carly Peck-Sophia Lococo (Mequon Homestead), doubles. Division 2—Maddy Ecker (Milwaukee University School), singles; Meghan Linehan-Margaret Faller (Green Bay Notre Dame), doubles.
Area qualifiers: Division 1 singles—Brianna Jackson, Fort Atkinson; Bryanne Blanton, Elkhorn; Division 1 doubles—Maddie Theisen-Kristen Zeilinger, Janesville Parker; Marianna Moser-Elizabeth Murphy, Milton; Riley Mikrut-Lily Fisher, Lake Geneva Badger.
Division 2 singles—Liz McGrail, Walworth Big Foot/Williams Bay; Hannah Runez, Whitewater; Division 2 doubles—Taylor Balcerowski-Olivia Prahl, East Troy; Annie McGrail-Lauren Speare, Walworth Big Foot/Williams Bay.
Tickets: $6 per day, students and adults, available at the door.