While just sophomores, Roncalli’s Tallie Piaskowski and Lincoln’s Bailey Budnik will both be returning to the WIAA State girls tennis tournament for a second-consecutive season with high expectations.
Budnik (27-4) will face fellow sophomore and No. 12 seeded Jennifer Skonieczny (21-7) of Cedarburg (21-7) today at 10:30 a.m. at Division 1 singles. Piaskowski (19-3), the No. 3 seed at D2 singles, isn’t scheduled to play till 11:30 a.m. on Friday against the winner of the match between seniors Anna Smith of Aquinas (12-14) and Regis’ Maria Neff (21-8).
The duo each had a strong performance at sectionals, with Budnik taking first and Piaskowski finishing second. Another factor is both will be able to lean on their experience from last season’s trip to the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison where the tournament is held today-Saturday.
“It helps a lot,” said Lincoln coach Jacques Verbauwhede of his No. 1 singles player. “She’s played in Madison not only at State last year but also for USTA matches. She won’t be as nervous so that really gives her an advantage over her opponents.”
Unlike Budnik, Piaskowski’s second State appearance will be solo after having reached the state title match with partner Abby Halla for D2 doubles, although coach Dave Mueller says it’ll help all the same.
“Just being (at State) and being comfortable is a huge plus” Muller said. “Also playing with a senior last year and against great competition will help, whether it was doubles or singles.”
Rounding out the singles qualifiers for the area is Roncalli junior Chloe Kitzerow (20-2), who takes on freshman Emma Sango (20-7) of Edgewood Sacred Heart at 3:30 p.m. Kitzerow, the Jets No. 2, has the better record but Sango is seeded No. 6 and is her teams No. 1 singles player.
“Chloe has played enough tennis to know what she needs to do,” Mueller said. “She’s faced Tallie everyday in practice and she’s ready to step up her level of play.”
Both Lincoln and Roncalli will be represented by their No. 1 doubles team and all four players will be making their State debuts.
The Ships’ duo, comprised of sophomore Sydney Verbauwhede and senior Michaela Jagemann (19-11) meet Homestead’s Kate Weitzer, sr., and Madeline Slicker, so., (21-9) at 12:30 p.m.
“This is the icing on the cake for Sydney and Michaela,” Verbauwhede said. “Getting to State isn’t an experience everyone gets to have, especially Michaela as a senior.”
Jets’ sophomore Maddie Salutz and partner Hannah Kubsh, jr., (11-9) take on Xavier’s Megan Dubois, jr., and Alyssa Carew, so., (17-6) at 5 p.m. The duo will have familiarity on their side, having faced their opponents twice this season with both matches ending in a loss.
“They know what to expect, they just need to eliminate their mistakes,” Mueller said.