JANESVILLE — Jefferson sophomore Gracie Niebler and Whitewater freshman Emilia Houwers advanced to the WIAA state girls tennis individual tournament with top-three finishes at Wednesday’s sectional held at Palmer Park in Janesville.

“Anytime you get someone to state it’s big,” Jefferson head coach Steve Rogers said. “Especially since a lot of Division 1 schools are in our sectionals.

“That was good to see Gracie winning the close matches this year. She lost a few last season.”

Niebler opened play with a 6-4, 4-6, 11-9 victory over Verona’s Samantha Breitbach in the quarterfinals, clinching a state berth right off the bat as the quarterfinal winners in No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles are guaranteed to advance.

In the semifinals, Niebler withstood Janesville Craig’s Lucia Hyzer 6-4, 1-6, 10-6.

Niebler fell to Stoughton’s Annika Goetz in the finals 6-3, 6-2.

“She (Niebler) got a workout because both of her first two matches were third-set tie breakers,” Rogers said. “Not only did she have to go play three matches, but the points were long. She was out there for six hours of tennis today, great tennis by her.

“Her forehand carried her in the matches. She was able to move the ball on her opponents. She made less errors.”

Houwers had little trouble in her first match, beating Monroe’s Kylie Miller, 6-1, 6-3. In the semifinal, Houwers was unable to overcome Stoughton’s Annika Goetz, losing 6-3, 6-2.

In the third-place match at the top singles’ flight, Houwers topped Janesville Craig’s Lucia Hyzer, 6-3, 6-2. Top four spots advanced to state.

Jefferson finished third as a team with 32 points while Verona (47 points) won the sectional to qualify for the state team tournament. Whitewater finished sixth with 20 points.

The Eagles’ No. 1 doubles pair of Eden Dempsey and Meghan Magner lost to Edgerton’s Sylvia Fox/Ashley Ulset 7-5, 7-5 in the quarters.

“They (Dempsey and Magner) played so well again,” Rogers said. “Like their (Edgerton) coach said, they get every ball back. They are so athletic, they can chase down shots.”

Rogers said he was going to put in a special qualifier spot for Dempsey and Magner.

In No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles, only the winners make it through.

Jefferson’s No. 2 doubles tandem of Emily Carlson and Lily Duddeck lost both their matches, including 7-6 (4), 6-1 to Craig’s Rebecca Frank/Ellah Turenne in the third-place match.

“They (Carlson and Duddeck) played well at practice and carried it in today,” Rogers said.

At No. 2 singles, Laura Traver lost her third-place match to Oregon’s Ella Peotter 6-1, 4-6, 10-7 after a semifinal defeat to Verona’s Elsa Queoff 6-1, 6-4.

“She (Traver) played so well,” Rogers said. “She gets so much out of her ability. I’m a big fan of hers.”

Alexa Medina (No. 3 singles) went 0-2 while Alivia Dearborn (No. 4 singles) won 6-4, 7-5 against Stoughton’s Zosia Diede before a 6-1, 6-1 setback against Verona’s Hannah Bertrand in the finals.

Whitewater’s Crystal Chan opened up her sectional at No. 4 singles with a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Verona’s Hannah Bertrand. However, Chan bounced back to close out her season with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Stoughton’s Zosia Diede.

The Whippets’ Jeanette Falcon and Vanesa Wence lost both of their No. 3 doubles matches at the sectional.

There is still one more chance at advancing to state, which takes place April 22-23 at Lake Geneva Tennis Club and Badger High School, as a Friday seeding meeting will result in 16 more qualifiers. Those qualifiers will be split evenly between singles and doubles with each of the four sectionals in the state contested this week assured of at least one pick.

Team scores: Verona 47; Janesville Craig 37; Jefferson 32; Stoughton 27; Oregon 24; Whitewater 20; Edgerton 18; Janesville Parker 14; Milton 14; Monroe 8.

Automatic state qualifiers: Janesville Craig 3; Edgerton 1; Janesville Parker 1; Milton 1; Oregon 1; Stoughton 1; Verona 1; Whitewater 1; Jefferson 1.

No. 1 singles

Championship: Goetz, Sto, def. Niebler, Jef, 6-3, 6-2.

Third place: Houwers, WW, def. Hyzer, JC, 6-3, 6-2.

Semifinals: Goetz def. Houwers, 6-3, 6-2; Niebler def. Hyzer, 6-4, 1-6, 10-6.

Quarterfinals: Goetz def. Niemeier, Mil, 6-0, 6-4; Houwers def. Miller, Mon, 6-1, 6-3; Niebler def. Breitbach, V, 6-4, 4-6,11-9; Hyzer def. Rusch, Edg, 6-4, 6-0.

No. 2 singles

Championship: Grund, JC, def. Queoff, V, 6-0, 6-2.

Third place: Peotter, Or, def. Traver, Jef, 6-1, 4-6, 10-7.

Semifinals: Queoff def. Traver, 6-1, 6-4; Grund def. Peotter, 4-6, 6-4, 11-9.

No. 3 singles

Championship: Qureshi, V, def. Ceballos, JC, 6-0, 6-1.

Third place: Gibbons, Sto, def. Medina, Jef, 6-1, 6-1.

Semifinals: Qureshi def. Medina, 6-2, 6-1; Ceballos def. Gibbons, 6-0, 6-4.

No. 4 singles

Championship: Bertrand, V. def. Dearborn, Jef, 6-1, 6-1.

Third place: Diede, Sto, def. Chan, WW, 7-5, 6-3.

Semifinals: Bertrand def. Chan, 6-1,6-0; Dearborn def. Diede, 6-4, 7-5.

No. 1 doubles

Championship: Quade/Barnes, JP, def. Fox/Ulset, Edg, 6-3, 6-2.

Third place: Kreuser/Huseth, V, def. Norland/Kooyman, JC, 6-2, 6-1.

Semifinals: Fox/Ulset def. Kooyman/Norland, 6-4, 6-0; Quade/Barnes def. Kreuser/Huseth, 6-1, 6-1.

Quarterfinals: Kooyman/Norland def. Streiff/Lo, Or, 6-3, 6-4; Fox/Ulset def. Dempsey/Magner, Jef, 7-5, 7-5; Kreuser/Huseth def. Davis/Suchanek, Mil, 6-0, 6-1; Quade/Barnes def. Abing/Wheeler, Sto, 6-4, 6-4.

No. 2 doubles

Championship: Yeakley/Wirtz, Or, def. Chavez-Lazaro/Witkowski, V, 6-1, 7-5.

Third place: Frank/Turenne, JC, def. Carlson/Duddeck, Jef, 7-6 (4), 6-1.

Semifinals: Wirtz/Yeakley def. Frank/Turenne, 7-6 (5), 6-2; Chavez-Lazaro/Witkowski def. Carlson/Duddeck, 6-3, 6-3.

No. 3 doubles

Championship: E. Nick/A. Nick, V, def. Plenty/Reilly, JC, 6-1, 6-4.

Third place: Urban/VanderWegen, Or, def. Falcon/Wence, WW, 6-0, 6-0.

Semifinals: E. Nick/A. Nick def. Falcon/Wence, 6-0, 6-0; Plenty/Reilly def. Urban/VanderWegen, 6-0, 6-2.

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