The Verona girls tennis team, ranked fifth in the Division 1 Wisconsin Tennis Coaches Association state poll, still has three singles players unbeaten this season after rolling to a championship at the Waunakee Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 11.
Verona (15-2, 4-1 Big Eight) defeated Sauk Prairie 5-2 and breezed by West De Pere 6-1. The Wildcats clipped Waunakee 4-3 for the title.
Verona freshman Naisha Nagpal (17-0) at No. 1 singles, junior Zoe Qureshi (17-0) at No. 3 singles and senior Elsa Queoff (17-0) at No. 4 singles each continued unbeaten seasons. Senior Samantha Breitbach also went 3-0 at the invite.
“I will take it,” Verona coach Mark Happel said of having three unbeaten singles players. “We definitely are off to a great start. The whole team is. Not everyone is going to win all of their matches but we are playing really well and getting better.”
The Wildcats knocked off Oregon in a nonconference match 7-0 the day before. Verona lost its first conference showdown to fourth-ranked Middleton 4-3 on Thursday, Sept. 9, at Middleton High School.
Bring ranked fifth in the state has provided motivation.
“I think it has made them work hard to keep it (ranking) and move up,” Happel said.
Verona has a big conference match at noon at Madison West this Friday.
“We are hoping to be top three in the conference, but if everything bounces right, who knows,” Happel said.
The Wildcats swept all four singles matches to edge the Warriors Sept. 11, in the title match of the Waunakee Invitational.
“Our singles play was fantastic,” Happel said. “They were firing on all cylinders.”
Nagpal defeated Waunakee’s Claire Jaeger at No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-0. At No. 2 singles, Breitbach outlasted Waunakee’s Gretchen Lee 7-5, 6-3. Qureshi at No. 3 singles defeated the Warriors’ Ely Liu 6-3, 6-1 and Queoff at No. 4 singles rolled by Waunakee’s Caitlin Grommon 6-1, 6-1.
Nagpal continued her unbeaten season.
“She has the physical skills and the mental skills,” Happel said. “When you put that all together it’s hard to beat.”
Nagpal played in a lot of USTA tennis tournaments as a youth player.
“She’s used to the big match atmosphere,” Happel said. “It doesn’t phase her.”
In the view of some coaches there is more at stake playing high school tennis tournaments with peers.
“The high school season is different than the USTA because now you are playing for something; you are playing for your teammates,” Happel said. “There is always a little more added pressure when you are playing for other people.”
The Warriors won all three doubles matches. The closest doubles match came at No. 2 doubles where Waunakee’s Anna Loken and Sophie Schnaubelt defeated Verona’s Andrea Chavez-Lazaro and Morgan Witkowski in three sets 4-6, 6-1, 10-4. At No. 1 doubles, Waunakee’s Danielle Rogers and Jadyn Statz defeated Verona junior Julia Huseth and senior Morgan Kreuser 6-4, 6-3. The Warriors’ No. 3 doubles team of Lexi Opsahl and Simone Nowinski knocked off Verona sisters Annie Nick and Erin Nick 6-4, 6-2.
Against Sauk Prairie, the Wildcats won all four singles matches. Nagpal cruised by Sauk Prairie’s Quinlyn Mack 6-1, 6-2. Qureshi, who played No. 2 singles in the match against the Eagles, defeated Devin O’Connor 6-0, 6-0 and Queoff at No. 3 singles defeated the Eagles’ Ava Andres 6-3, 6-1. At No. 4 singles, Verona’s Annalise Cooper clipped Sauk Prairie’s Emilia Pape 6-3, 7-6 (5).
“Sam ( Breitbach) had a really long match against Waunakee and I wanted to give her some recovery time,” Happel said.
At No. 3 doubles, the Nick sisters rolled by the Eagles’ Allison Shelton and Molly Diske 6-2, 6-1.
The singles for Verona were dominant in the victory against West De Pere, winning 49 of the 52 games.
Nagpal cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win over West De Pere’s Stacey Cloute. Breitbach rolled by West De Pere’s Taylan Wagner 6-1, 6-1. At No. 3 singles, Qureshi defeated West De Pere’s Grace Heier 6-0, 6-1 and Queoff at No. 4 singles breezed by West De Pere’s Brianna Haen 6-0, 6-0.
The Wildcats’ No. 2 doubles team of Chavez-Lazaro and Witkowski defeated West De Pere’s Laura Sullivan and Cadence Durge 6-3, 6-2. The Wildcats’ Annie Nick and Erin Nick defeated Amber Burns and Amber Dunham 6-1, 6-3 at No. 3 doubles.
“Our doubles ran into some really good competition and are getting better,” Happel said.
Verona 7, Oregon 0
The Wildcats swept all seven flights in a nonconfernce dual against Oregon Sept. 10, at Verona Area High School.
Nagpal at No. 1 singles defeated Oregon’s Ella Peotter 6-1, 6-3. Breitbach at No. 2 singles defeated the Panthers’ Elena Behdad 6-1, 6-1. At No. 3 singles, Qureshi rolled by Oregon’s Kimberly Urban 6-0, 6-0 and Queoff at No. 4 singles breezed by Oregon’s Mary Jo Sommers 6-0, 6-0.
The Wildcats’ top doubles team of Huseth and Kreuser edged the Panthers’ Ella Wirtz and Stephanie Lo 6-4, 7-6 (4). Chavez-Lazaro and Witkowski at No. 2 doubles defeated Oregon’s Anna Johnson and Emma Yeakley 6-2, 6-0. At No. 3 doubles, Verona’s Annie Nick and Erin Nick defeated the Panthers’ Kristelle Sommers and Anna Martin 6-1, 6-0.
Middleton 4, Verona 3
In a Big Eight Conference showdown, the Wildcats won three singles matches, but lost a nail-biter to the Cardinals Sept. 9, at Middleton High School
Nagpal defeated Middleton’s Sonya Agapov in three sets 4-6, 6-2, 10-7 in a No. 1 singles match. Qureshi at No. 3 singles also won a three-set thriller over Lydia Sabat 6-2, 2-6, 10-3. At No. 4 singles, Queoff defeated the Cardinals’ Grace Olson 6-4, 6-1.
Happel said it was a tough conference match that could have gone either way.
“We will see them again at conference and the subsectional,” he said.