By Craig Marx, Editor
Moving to Division II has been a blessing Coach Aimee Hein and the Antigo girls tennis team have been waiting for. On a more equal field of competition, the Lady Robins are looking forward to getting over the hump of sub-sectionals in 2016.
The Lady Robins have competed in Division I since the inception of the tennis program. While Antigo proves to be competitive upon reaching the postseason, the likes of larger-enrollment schools such as West De Pere have gotten the best of the Robins in sub-sectional play these past few seasons. Moving to Division II looks to be a win-win situation for the players and the coaching staff.
“These girls deserve credit for the work they put in not to lose in the first round against larger schools,” Coach Hein said. “It’s been hard to see that these past few years and the end result should be the culmination of that hard work. I believe moving to Division II will give us higher expectations as we have a great team with a lot of potential.”
The Lady Robins have 20 girls out this season, with an equal split of 10 players for varsity and just as many for JV. Roughly three-quarters of the girls have prior experience with the Antigo tennis program, according to Coach Hein.
The girls had barely gotten four practices in before already facing stiff competition in a two-day tournament in Green Bay held Aug 15-16. Going up against Division I schools once again, now in exhibition play, Coach Hein feels the early test was a good wake-up call for the team to begin the season on high level.
“It’s really a shock to [the players’] systems,” Hein said. “Playing a tournament this early gives us a chance to play with the lineups against tough competition, especially in rebuilding years.”
Perhaps the biggest shakeup of the new season was the merger of two individual talents into a premiere doubles team. Emily Wald and Izzy Matuszewski will combine this season to occupy the No. 1 doubles position for the Robins.
With only one returning doubles team from 2015 taking the court again this year, Hein left the decision up to the senior Wald.
“As long as I can play tennis, I don’t care if it is singles or doubles,” Wald said, as quoted by her coach. At the preseason tournament, the duo of Wald and Matuszewski won three of their six matches.
Returning to top-level singles competition this season for Antigo will be senior multi-sport athlete Allison Kondzela.
Moving into the season, particularly conference play, Rhinelander proves to be Antigo’s toughest foe once again. Fielding a quality program, the Hodags have three senior players that have all been playing together since they were freshmen. Coach Hein mentioned that the two teams are always neck-and-neck, as evident of their finishes last year in conference point standings: No. 1 Rhinelander with 170 and No. 2 Antigo at 114.
This season, the girls will host Parent’s Night on Aug. 30 (5 p.m.) against Marshfield Columbus and Senior Night on Sep. 13 vs. Lakeland (also 5 p.m.). The GNC meet is scheduled for Sep. 24 in Rhinelander (beginning at 9 a.m.) while the sub-sectionals, with all the new Division II hype, are slotted for Oct. 3.
2016 AHS Girls Tennis Schedule
- Mon. Aug. 22 – Home Triangular vs. Medford and Phillips – 3 p.m.
- Thur. Aug. 25 – at Lakeland – 5 p.m.
- Mon. Aug. 29 – vs. Wausau West – 4:30 p.m.
- Tue. Aug. 30 – vs. Marshfield Columbus – 5 p.m.
- Thur. Sep. 1 – vs. Rhinelander – 5 p.m.
- Mon. Sep. 12 – Away Triangular at Medford (Medford and Phillips) – 3 p.m.
- Tue. Sep. 13 – vs. Lakeland – 5 p.m.
- Thur. Sep. 15 – at Marshfield Columbus – 5 p.m.
- Tue. Sep. 20 – at Rhinelander – 5 p.m.
- Sat. Sep. 24 – GNC Meet at Rhinelander – 9 a.m.
- Mon. Oct. 3 – Sub Sectionals – 9 a.m.
- Wed. Oct. 5 – Sectionals – 9 a.m.