Advertisement

USM sweeps Division 2 state girls tennis titles; DSHA duo repeats as D1 doubles champions

USM's Isabel Werner (far left) and Mia Darr (left middle) pose with the Division 2 bracket results with DSHA's Lizzie Stuckslager (right middle) and Molly Jex (far right) holding the Division 1 doubles bracket results. Both teams won state doubles titles on Saturday.
USM's Isabel Werner (far left) and Mia Darr (left middle) pose with the Division 2 bracket results with DSHA's Lizzie Stuckslager (right middle) and Molly Jex (far right) holding the Division 1 doubles bracket results. Both teams won state doubles titles on Saturday.

MADISON — The greater Milwaukee area won three of the four state championships at the 2023 WIAA girls state individual tennis tournament with University School of Milwaukee sweeping both the singles and doubles titles in Division 2, while Divine Savior Holy Angels' top doubles pairing of Molly Jex and Lizzie Stuckslager captured their second straight Division 1 doubles title.

USM sophomore Angela Wang won the Division 2 singles title, while Isabel Werner and Mia Darr captured the doubles title to bring the Wildcats one step away from a clean sweep of titles heading into the team tournament next weekend.

Along with the three champions, the area was also represented by two of the top six finishers in the Division 1 singles tournament with Brookfield East sophomore Caroline Raster finishing fifth and Whitefish Bay sophomore Clare Schaefer finishing sixth after Raster beat Schaefer 7-6 (3), 6-0 in the fifth-place match Saturday.

In Division 1 doubles, Kettle Moraine's Allison Abhold and Ella Wagner finished fourth after a tough 7-5, 3-6, 7-10 defeat to De Pere's Ana Cristescu and Lillianna Graf in the third-place match. Homestead's Ritu Nair and Melina Fiorentini defeated Arrowhead's Lily Liu and Sarah Neubert 7-6 (6), 6-2 to take fifth place.

In Division 2 singles, The Prairie School's Lillian Jorgenson took fourth place on the podium after a 3-6, 3-6 defeat to Aquinas' Danica Silcox in the third-place match, while Haley Erlich and Lindsey Gardner made it two USM doubles teams on the podium with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Regis' Colleen Callaghan and Ashley Chilson. Susanna Hundt from the St. Joan Antida co-op program rounded out the top six finishers in D2 singles with a sixth-place finish.

USM's Angela Wang bounces back from last year's loss to capture D2 singles title

The lights were brighter than ever and the crowd was as loud as Angela Wang had ever heard before in her stellar freshman campaign that saw her lose in the Division 2 state singles title match last season against defending champion Lily Olson from Edgewood in a 2-6, 3-6 defeat.

That loss was Wang's lone loss of the season last year, but on Saturday afternoon, the super sophomore got another shot at the two-time champion Olson. The saying is "you come at the king, you best not miss" and for Wang, she came at the queen of Division 2 singles the last two postseasons, and this time Wang did not miss.

Wang captured the title Saturday with an impressive 6-1, 6-3 victory just one court over from teammates Mia Darr and Isabel Werner playing in the Division 2 doubles title match. It was Wang's third win over Olson in four total meetings across all competitions, including the last two D2 singles title matches.

"I'm definitely more confident this year. Last year, I just didn't really trust myself, especially in those close moments, I didn't trust myself that I could win them," Wang said.

The top finishers at D2 singles in the WIAA girls state individual tournament, from left to right: Susanna Hundt (St. Joan Antida), Lillian Jorgenson (The Prairie School), Lily Olson (Edgewood), Angela Wang (USM), Danica Silcox (Aquinas) and Caitlyn Stadter (Mondovi).
The top finishers at D2 singles in the WIAA girls state individual tournament, from left to right: Susanna Hundt (St. Joan Antida), Lillian Jorgenson (The Prairie School), Lily Olson (Edgewood), Angela Wang (USM), Danica Silcox (Aquinas) and Caitlyn Stadter (Mondovi).

"This year, after every point, I kinda took a step back, took a deep breath and kept telling myself, 'You got this. You're going to win this.' I think my mindset is what really got to me last year, especially with the loud crowd against you. I just wanted to stay calm.

"Every point, whatever happened in the last point, just forget it and think about the new point. As I was playing, I kinda just zoned out and didn't really listen to the crowd, which definitely changed from last year."

Wang won all three of her service games in the opening set and broke Olson's serve three times to take six of the seven total games played for the early advantage. After falling behind 0-2 in the second set, Wang took four of the next five games, including a tough seventh game on serve through multiple deuces, to lead 4-3. She broke Olson's serve one more time and served out the match to become the first USM player to win the D2 singles title since Veda Sane in 2017.

"I just felt so proud of myself and my family for always supporting me," Wang said about stepping to the top of the podium this time around.

"Especially last year going to the up the podium, I just didn't feel my best, like I could've played better. This year, I knew I played my best. I gave it my all. The results were obviously in my favor this time and I'm just so grateful my family was there and my team was there supporting me."

USM's Mia Darr and Isabel Werner complete perfect day for Wildcats with D2 doubles title

There's never a boring moment when Mia Darr and Isabel Werner are on a tennis court together. They're closer than 19 is to 20 as friends and teammates. Their run as doubles partners in the individuals tournament came to an end on Saturday with Werner being a senior, but it was the finish both were looking for.

After a rugged 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory in the semifinals against Altoona's pairing of Bella Bauer and Josie Rondestvedt, USM's top-seeded doubles pairing captured the D2 title with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Kohler's Sophia Torke and Grace Villwock. The victory was their first state title together and Werner's second after winning the D2 doubles title in 2021 with partner Rebecca Daskal.

"Isabel and I have been friends for so long," Darr said. "To win this with her is everything. She's the best partner and I'm just grateful and happy that we won."

"It's really hard to put it all into words," Werner said. "It's going to take quite a while for it to all hit me, but obviously, we were here last year. We played well, but we didn't come out to get what we wanted. I think ending our individual time together, it's really bittersweet, but in the absolute best way possible."

With the victory, the Wildcats took both D2 titles on Saturday and if they can claim back-to-back team titles in Madison next weekend, they can become the first program in the current two-division format that debuted in 1994 to win the team title, the singles title and the doubles title in the same postseason.

"It would be so awesome," Darr said on winning all three titles. "We have to give a lot of credit to our awesome coaches in Coach (Matt) Flack and Coach (Todd) Colt for their awesome support. It's a different type of win winning it as a team, but it's really cool."

"It's a different type of energy, but it's a good energy because we get to share this kind of feeling with everybody else and everybody succeeding together," Werner said.

DSHA's Molly Jex and Lizzie Stuckslager complete dominant two-year run together with back-to-back D1 doubles titles

Seven.

In their five-match run to their second straight Division 1 doubles state championship, DSHA duo Molly Jex and Lizzie Stuckslager lost just seven games.

Jex and Stuckslager lost three of those seven games in the title match to Middleton's Ashley Andler and Keena Chang, but the defending champions cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory for back-to-back titles as the top overall seed and a perfect 22-0 season.

"It's crazy actually," Jex said with a laugh before a few tears began to well up in her eyes. "I don't even know how to put it into words. It was a perfect end to my senior year."

"It's been really exciting," Stuckslager said. "I've just been very happy to do it with Molly. It's been very fun playing with her."

"They were just a great pair right out of the gate," Dashers coach Melissa Gebhardt said. "Last year, I knew they would be a good match together and never in my wildest dreams did I think they would win it two years in a row (laughs). It's pretty incredible to have Molly the senior, completing her tennis career winning two years in a row and to see the future and what's to come in Lizzie is really exciting."

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Angela Wang Mia Darr Isabel Werner lead USM at 2023 WIAA state tennis