When veteran Brookfield Central tennis coach Dave Steinbach walked up to Wauwatosa East sophomore Nick Skanavis at the WIAA Sectional at Brookfield Central on May 28 and congratulated him, it was the first time the good news really sunk in.
"Wow! I'm going to state," Skanavis said. "I'm really happy. I didn't really expect to go. So I guess qualifying for state has been a mixture of happiness and surprise."
Tosa East coach Glen Slonac saw it coming.
"Nick had a really good day of practice on Wednesday, and I told him if he plays like he did in practice he would make it to state," Slonac said.
Skanavis won his first sectional match against a Franklin foe, 7-5, 6-4, to qualify before losing his next two.
"Nick showed a lot of heart and desire to pull out a close match that could have gone either way," Slonac said. "This is a great accomplishment for a sophomore."
Skanavis will not be alone at the WIAA State Individual Tennis Tournament today, Friday and Saturday at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison. The Red Raiders' top doubles team of Peter Conis and Michael Rankin also qualified. They won their first sectional match against a Greenfield pair and another against Brookfield East opponents before losing to a Brookfield Central tandem.
"They showed signs of how well they can play and they just need to believe in their ability," Slonac said. "We played Brookfield Central very close in the first set in the finals and didn't play as well in the second set. When (Conis and Rankin) play within themselves they can just about beat any team."
Like Skanavis, Rankin will be making his first state appearance. Rankin and Conis played singles in the past, but Slonac teamed them up this season.
"I was definitely pleased with the move," Rankin said. "My game is more suited for doubles. I'm more of an angles guy. Peter has a big serve. He has tremendous volleys. I'm more consistent and have a good ground stroke."
The Red Raiders finished fourth with 24 points in the sectional behind Central (54), Brookfield East (37) and Franklin (28).
"The team played very well and I was impressed how well our players handled the pressure," Slonac said. "Qualifying three players to state and improving like we did as a team is a great credit to all the players."
Wauwatosa West - The Trojans scored four points in the subsectional May 26, at Brookfield Central. Third singles player Tony Stolar beat a New Berlin Eisenhower foe, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, and the second doubles team of Conner McMahon and Pat Merz beat an Eisenhower pair, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
SINGLES: Wauwatosa East sophomore Nick Skanavis (13-9) vs. Racine Horlick senior Jeff Lotz (22-1), 2 p.m. today
DOUBLES: Wauwatosa East juniors Peter Conis and Michael Rankin (9-3) vs. Arrowhead seniors Rick Bero and Matt Lunde (10-12), 5:30 p.m. today
See a photo gallery from the tennis sectional at Brookfield Central
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