Onalaska Luther High School will send a doubles team — Phoebe Christenson and Jenna Wahl — to compete in the WIAA Division 2 girls state individual tournament at Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison, while senior Lizzy Hoffe will compete in the No. 2 singles flight.
Christenson and Wahl are both sophomores, but coach Mark Ross said they play like upper classmen.
“They both are very level-headed and play with confidence,” Ross said. “They have different personalities but their games complement one another. They’re strong mentally, and they have a good sense of the game. They’ve been really fun to watch.”
The Luther duo is 24-5 entering their first-round match at 7 p.m. today against Alex Armbrust and Anya Armbrust of Lodi.
The two doubles teams have faced each other twice this season, and the Knights won both those matches.
“They’re as much of a surprise as anyone else,” Ross said. “Jenna played some doubles, and Phoebe played junior varsity last year. They’ve done an outstanding job for playing varsity No. 1 doubles.”
Among the field in Division 2 doubles, Christenson and Wahl are one of two pairs where both players are younger than juniors. Altoona’s doubles team — Morgan Dekan (freshman) and Kate Harris (sophomore) — are the other team with both players younger than juniors.
Meanwhile, Hoffe enters the singles bracket as one of two players (Aquinas’ Giselle Fisher) with a non-winning record.
Hoffe enters competition with a 14-14 mark, but just like Fisher, Hoffe has faced some tough competition in the Coulee Region.
“She realized at the beginning of the year how big of a step it was for her to move No. 1,” Ross said. “She had a lot of tough matches, but she handled things pretty well. You have to realize that was going to make her better, and it paid off for her.
“I tried to remind her that she was playing talented players,” Ross added. “We used that as an opportunity for her to get better. She wasn’t getting beat because of what she was doing, it was because of what the other players were doing.”
Hoffe’s first match is against New London junior Kate Christian at 5:30 today.
The Knights senior started playing at the varsity level last season, and played well enough to grab the No. 3 singles Coulee Conference first-team honor.
Fisher has an 8-12 record for the Blugolds, and will face Jefferson junior Morgan Graf.
Should Hoffe and Fisher advance out of the first round, both local players will play ranked opponents in Round 2.
If Hoffe wins, she’ll likely face University School of Milwaukee senior Riley Strauss, who is seeded No. 5. Fisher would face Newman Catholic’s Laura Larrain, who is seeded third.