Zach Gilmaster has never experienced playing in a WIAA Division 1 sectional meet.
On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Rapids junior made sure he’ll get that opportunity.
Gilmaster will play Thursday in the sectional meet after a pair of straight-set victories over Antigo’s Alex Thomae (6-0, 6-3) and Ben Reich of Wausau West (6-2, 6-3) at No. 2 singles in the Stevens Point Subsectional.
In order to advance to sectionals, No. 1 singles players and doubles teams needed to win one match at subsectional, while players in the remaining three singles flights and two doubles flights were required to win a pair of matches.
Next up for Gilmaster, and the rest of the sectional qualifiers, is a trip to the Western Racquet Club in Green Bay for sectional play hosted by Ashwaubenon.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never played indoors before, so it’s definitely going to be a change of pace,” Gilmaster said. “The first match (Tuesday) was definitely how I wanted to play. In the second match, I had to find some extra gas in the tank to pull out the win.”
Gilmaster isn’t the only person getting ready for a special opportunity.
Stevens Point Area Senior High put itself in a position to be in the hunt for a spot in the WIAA Team Tournament by enjoying a perfect day on the courts to advance all 10 players through to sectional competition.
More importantly, the Panthers will bring the maximum 24 points into the sectional in search of its first berth in the state team tournament since 2006, the only time in school history.
“Coming (into sectionals) with 24 points is huge, that’s as a good a position as we can be in,” SPASH coach Gary Baier said. “This was our goal to get get everybody through, and to do that, you have to play really well, and everybody stepped it up.”
Breezing into the sectional without dropping a set in singles were Bradley Luetschwager, Blaine Bancker, Jon Peck and Skyler Colegrove. None of the quartet dropped more than three games in any set.
The story was much the same in doubles, with the No. 1 tandem of Noah Meier and Trenton Seegert receiving the strongest challenge in a 6-0, 6-4 win.
Enjoying similar paths to sectionals for SPASH were Connor Cook and Dakota Zarecki at No. 2 doubles, along with the No. 3 duo of MJ DeBot and Adam Wentzel.
“Our doubles teams played a lot better than they did last time (at the Wisconsin Valley Conference Meet),” Baier said. “We really worked hard getting them to play to their potential, and I thought they moved a lot better today and attacked more.”
Doubles also was the name of the game for Wausau East, which sent all three doubles teams to sectionals, including Tanner Dimka and Gunthar Reising at the No. 1 spot.
In addition, Garrett Richetto and Matt LaViolette qualified at No. 2 doubles, while the No. 3 pairing of Sam Klug and Isaac Stine also kept their season alive.
“I was definitely happy how the seeds went, coming off the conference meet to get them all through to Thursday,” East coach Trevor Knight said. “Even our guys that lost played their hearts out. We just couldn’t pull off any upsets (in singles).”
Moving on to sectionals for Wausau West were Sean Bailey at No. 1 singles and No. 3 singles player Cody Achatz.
Representing Marshfield at sectionals will be Hunter Schultz at No. 1 singles, along with the No. 1 doubles pairing of Bryce Gadke and Jacob Limmex.
The Tigers were hoping to also have their No. 2 doubles team of Mitch Ott and Sam Trudeau get through, but it wasn’t meant to be Tuesday.
“It’s a little disappointing our two doubles lost, but that’s way the tennis ball bounces,” Marshfield coach Dave Jordan said. “One singles and one doubles was all good. I was pleased. The guys came out here and played their best to get it done today.
“It just shows, if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game, you might as well stay on the bus.”
Team standings: 1. SPASH 24; 2. Wausau West 14; 3. Wausau East 12; 4. Wisconsin Rapids, Marshfield, Antigo and Rhinelander 6; 8. D.C. Everest 2.