Samara Suomi and Maddie Tosseth started their high school tennis careers playing singles.
And Stevns Point Area Senior High girls tennis coach Gary Baier insists both of them could have enjoyed successful careers competing on their own.
With only four singles spots available on varsity and 10 qualified candidates to choose from entering this season, Tosseth and Suomi were best-suited to make the transition to doubles, according to their coach.
Things couldn’t have worked out any better for Tosseth and Suomi.
The doubles team will get to close out their high school careers at the WIAA Division 1 State Individual Tournament starting Thursday in Madison.
“To have this happen your senior year, how perfect is this?” Tosseth said. “This is what we’ve been working for. I have a great doubles partner, we went undefeated and won conference and won the sub-sectional and now this.”
Suomi and Tosseth will have plenty of company in Madison for their first state experience.
Freshman Emily Luetschwager, who is seeded sixth, also earned her first trip to state with a runner-up finish at the Eau Claire Memorial Sectional on Oct. 10, along with the sophomore doubles tandem of Juliet Champion and Jaide Barber.
Suomi and Tosseth earned a special qualifier after finishing second at No. 2 doubles.
“I was super excited when I heard the news. Going to state is something I’ve worked really hard for since my freshman year,” Suomi said. “To be able to share it with Maddie, so we can share the excitement feels great.”
The duo began the season at No. 1 doubles before losing a challenge match to the then No. 2 doubles team Barber and Champion before the start of the Wisconsin Valley Conference season.
That actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Tosseth and Suomi gained experience in the No. 1 position, and picked up some important wins against quality competition.
“As seniors they really deserve it,” Baier said. “I sold the (WIAA) committee they were pretty even with our other doubles team, losing the challenge match 7-6 in the third set.
“It all worked out great,” he added. “I’m thrilled they made it in and thrilled for them.”
Ever since Suomi and Tosseth (19-7) first practiced together in August great things have been happening.
The senior tandem is looking for even more success at state, starting with their first round matchup with Kim Kramer and Danielle Svehlek of New Berlin West (16-5) today.
“We’re definitely looking to make some noise and shake some things up down there,” Tosseth said. “I’m sure we’ll be nervous, but who wouldn’t be? If we win, we win. If we lose, we lose.”
The same could be said for Barber and Champion both of whom also will be experiencing state for the first time.
“We never knew we would make it to state, so this is a dream come true and I wouldn’t want to be there with anyone other than Jaide,” Champion said.
Champion and Barber (13-10) will meet Claire Rotherham and Maureen Schick of Green Bay Notre Dame de la Baie Academy (16-8) in their first match.
“We’re going to enjoy it and play as hard as we can and see what happens, ” Barber said.
Meanwhile, Luetschwager has reason to believe she can contend for a state championship.
Luetschwager (25-2) has an opening round bye and will play the winner of Greendale junior Gordonna Nuhn (16-15) and freshman Emma Corwin of Brookfield East (22-10) in her first match.
Her only losses have been to Grace Larrain of Wausau Newman — the top singles seed in Division 2 — and D.C. Everest junior Gabi Kitchell, a three-time state qualifier who is seeded seventh.
“I’m really excited I got seeded that high as a freshman,” Luetschwager said. “I’m going to try to not let any nerves or pressure get to me, and just have fun.”
Baier likes the chances of Luetschwager and both doubles teams to get through the first round, with Luetschwager possibly having a chance to reach the state semifinals — where ironically, she could face Kitchell for a fourth time.
“I think all of our draws are good,” Baier said. “I really believe our doubles teams can get through the first round, then things get tougher. Both doubles teams are playing pretty well right now, as well as they have all season.
“If Emily plays up to her potential, I think she has a legit shot to be in the top four,” Baier added. “The big thing for her is not to get rattled if someone runs off two or three games in a row.”