Xavier had a string of Wisconsin Combined Tennis Conference championships snapped last season and it stung a bit.
The 2013 Hawks look like a team hungry to reclaim the conference title.
Xavier won every match in straight sets Thursday to stay unbeaten in league dual-meet play with a convincing 7-0 blanking of Fox Valley Lutheran.
The Hawks, 5-0 in WCTC duals, have two more league matches next week before they will look to knock off defending champion West De Pere in the conference tournament Sept. 28 at West De Pere.
“I’m excited about our team. We’re so much better than we were last year,” said Xavier senior Bridget Flaherty, a 2012 WCTC singles champion. “This team has just melded together better. We’re definitely going into the conference tournament as a strong team and I have a good feeling about it.”
Flaherty is undefeated in WCTC play after firing off a 6-0, 6-0 victory at No. 2 singles. Marissa Walsh, the Hawks’ No. 1 singles player, also carved out a two-set victory along with Katherine Pranica (No. 3) and Maria Schmitt (No. 4).
“Marissa is an excellent baseline player,” said Rick Jandl, Xavier’s co-coach along with C.J. Jumes. “She’s got some big strokes with both her forehand and backhand. And when she goes to the net, she’s very effective at it. She’s trying hard to become an all-court player instead of just a baseline player, and she’s on her way.”
Walsh, a sophomore, was a 2012 WIAA state meet qualifier as a freshman in doubles, teaming with Grace Flaherty, Bridget’s older sister.
“Singles involves a lot more running around the court, where doubles is a lot of net work,” said Walsh. “They’re totally different. I really liked playing doubles last year, but I was kind of looking forward to playing singles this year. Singles, though, can really get inside your head, because it’s just you out there.”
Xavier’s No. 1 doubles team of Megan DuBois and Alyssa Carew also stayed unbeaten in WCTC action. The duo won a conference championship at No. 2 doubles last season, so it was a no-brainer to stay together as a tandem this fall.
“We had a lot of success last year, and I thought it would only get better,” said DuBois, a junior. “We just like the way we play together and want to keep that going the next few years. We’re able to sense when we’re a little off and are able to fix whatever the problem is.”
Jandl likes the cohesiveness and on-court toughness of his No. 1 doubles team.
“They’re both very, very competitive,” said Jandl. “They’re very match-tough and they’re very supportive of one another.”
Jandl and Jumes haven’t tinkered much with the Hawks’ lineup since putting it together in August.
“As as new coach, I didn’t know what to expect this season,” said Jandl. “I knew we had a good team coming back, but the quality of this team is even better than I thought it would be. This is a strong team. I have a lot of confidence in it.”
XAVIER 7, FOX VALLEY LUTHERAN 0
At Fox Valley Lutheran
Marissa Walsh def. Danielle Voss 6-3, 6-0; Bridget Flaherty def. Elise Bejvan 6-0, 6-0; Katherine Pranica def. Merritt Jezwinski 7-5, 6-3; Maria Schmitt def. Abbie Asendorf 6-1, 6-2.
Megan DuBois/Alyssa Carew def. Mara Mindock/Abby Schlafer 6-4, 6-2; Becky Kramer/Carly Wesner def. Lindsey Wichman/Dana Sickinger 6-2, 6-4; Anne Geenen/Ann Richey def. Emily Bjorklund/Alex Oldenburg 6-1, 6-3.
— Tim Froberg: 920-993-1000, ext. 423, or firstname.lastname@example.org; On Twitter @twfroberg