Green Bay Notre Dame girls tennis player Ellie Zimmermann isn’t used to losing.
It’s a good thing she’s not expected to do so any time soon.
The sophomore will enter the WIAA Division 2 state individual tournament at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison this weekend as the favorite to win the title. It’s the same storyline as last season, when she dropped just seven games in four state matches on her way to becoming Notre Dame’s first girls singles champion.
Zimmermann has gone 23-0 this season despite battling a wrist injury early and missing several matches. Whether she has improved from last season’s 35-1 campaign is difficult to tell. After all, she started her freshman year already considered the best player in the area, and she’s never done anything to relinquish that title.
She was the Fox River Classic Conference champion this season for the second straight year and won another sectional championship last week.
“Ellie has had a great year,” Notre Dame coach Shane Lagerman said. “I have a lot of confidence that she can defend her state title.”
Zimmermann earned the No. 1 seed at state and will receive a first-round bye. She will play her first match Friday morning.
Her biggest competition could be No. 2 seed Maddy Ecker, a senior from the University School of Milwaukee. Zimmermann defeated Ecker 7-5, 6-0 in the championship match of the team state tournament in 2011.
The overall draw is considered by some to be tougher than last season, and the pressure is just as high.
“I’m feeling pretty confident,” Zimmermann said. “Some people are probably expecting (a title), but if it doesn’t happen, I at least know I’ve accomplished the goal.”
Zimmermann is young in her prep career, but she has competed in several big tournaments growing up and during the offseason. She has played on several big stages, but there is little question going through the state experience last season will help her this time around.
“You know how the fans are and the courts,” Zimmermann said. “Just the pressures and the different things going into it.”
Zimmermann said her wrist is feeling better after she took time off at the beginning of the season. She feared the injury might hinder her game throughout the year, but it improved quicker than she anticipated after getting treatment on it.
Despite the setback, Zimmermann feels her overall game has gotten better. She is playing smarter on the court and is making great in-game adjustments.
“I feel like I’ve stepped up my weapons,” she said.
That can’t be a comforting thought for her opponents.
“I think she looks good,” Lagerman said. “She was able to defend her sectional title and conference titles, and she is playing well.
“Certainly her forehand isn’t giving her any trouble at all. She is still very intelligent, and she still comes out every day to give 110 percent.”
Area first-round pairings Division 1 Singles
Devon Paulsen, sr., De Pere (13-11) vs. Lily Simonson, sr., Madison West (13-10).
Lily Howe, so., West De Pere (20-7) vs. Kate Tanawattanacharoen, so., Eau Claire Memorial (29-3).
Lauren Miketinac, sr., Green Bay Preble (19-8) vs. Amy Upthagrove, sr., Muskego (25-4).
Anneliese Zak, so., Green Bay Southwest (17-14) vs. Patty Newby, jr., Divine Savior Holy Angels (13-15).
Lauren Vivian, jr., and Lauren Genske, jr. (19-4) vs. Hannah Kranz, jr., and Alaina Schaefer, sr., Hartford Union (16-12).
Kasey McCormick, sr., and Annie Robertson, sr., Green Bay Preble (9-6) vs. Kat Donovan, sr., and Ensley Gossett, sr., Franklin (16-8).
Amanda Fabry, sr., and Maddie Schaefer, sr., De Pere (17-11) vs. Carlie Swenson, sr., and Kate Weitzer, jr., Mequon Homestead (24-9).
Justine Daane, jr., and Sammi Pedersen, jr., Green Bay Southwest (17-3), bye.
Holly Kuffel, jr., and Katie Milligan, jr., Bay Port (10-6) vs. Swastie Bhagwandin, jr., and Megan Johnson, so., Madison Memorial (14-11).
Division 2 Singles
Ellie Zimmermann, so., Green Bay Notre Dame (23-0), bye.
Meghan Linehan, sr., and Nicole Pott, sr., Green Bay Notre Dame (12-5) vs. Marigrace Carney, sr., and Natalie Meicher, sr., Edgewood of the Sacred Heart (22-3).
Catherine Schaupp, sr., and Meg Vandenberg, sr., Green Bay Notre Dame (19-5) vs. Martha Longley, jr., and Maggie Seibert, jr., Edgewood of the Sacred Heart (22-5).