Franklin boys tennis coach Gail Champion has sometimes thought long and hard about putting the likes of the Manitowoc Invitational on the Sabers' schedule.
The likes of five-time state champion Marquette, Homestead, Brookfield Central and Nicolet are almost always at the event, which means Franklin's chances for success at the event are not very good.
But doing something like that always looks good on your résumé and the state seeding committee also values it very highly too.
And that's why, though the Sabers did not automatically qualify anyone out of the WIAA Brookfield Central Sectional on May 23, they will send senior singles player Evan Bauer (11-12) and the top doubles team of senior Kyle Hoffmann and junior Eric Bauer (12-12) as special qualifiers to this weekend's state individual tournament at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.
"I think it really did help," said Champion of the challenging schedule which also includes the Waukesha South Invitational. "That is such a tough sectional (Brookfield Central) to get into in the first place and to get someone out of it (to state) is even more challenging."
Champion was especially happy for Evan Bauer, the team's No. 1 singles player, who lost in the sub-sectional round and did not even advance to the sectional.
"But the committee looked at a number of our opponents and we did play a lot of the better teams," Champion said. "Still, this is very nice. I got an early look at the (state) draw sheet and saw that Evan's name was on there and I said 'Wow.' We had put him up for a couple of years now and for him to get into the draw now as a senior was really quite nice."
And as for the doubles team, a little history helped, as this will be Hoffmann's third trip to state with his third different partner.
"That team has had it's ups and downs this season," said Champion, "but playing first doubles like they do, you're playing the best week-in-and-week-out and sometimes they were right there. They were able to turn it up when the competition was at its hardest."
Evan Bauer will play Arrowhead's Kevin Heitzer (17-13) at approximately 2 p.m. Thursday in a first-round match. If Bauer wins, he will get three-time state top seed and 2010 state champion Alex Jesse of Homestead (26-0) at about 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Meanwhile, Hoffmann and Eric Bauer will play Wausau West's Ben Lahren and Nick Snoeyenbos (8-4) at 3 p.m. Thursday. If they win, the same fate that awaits Evan Bauer awaits them, as they will get the top-seeded team of Ben Klein and Ben Stewart of Brookfield East (20-2) in an 8:30 a.m. Friday match.
The qualification completes a strong season for the Sabers as they finished a competitive third of 14 at the WIAA Brookfield Central Sectional. They scored 24 points as Brookfield East won six of seven flights and scored 54 points and claimed the state team berth while Central was second with 43.
Franklin had four entries at the sectional. Hoffmann and Eric Bauer lost in the quarterfinals of sectional competition. Klein and Stewart wound up claiming the sectional title at first doubles.
The second doubles team of senior Logan Myers and junior Austin Bohn (20-6) won a psychologically important semifinal, beating a Central team it had lost to at Manitowoc before falling to an East pair in the final.
"They really gave it their best," said Champion of Myers and Bohn, "but that East pair was really on (in the final)."
Two other Sabers' entries managed to claim third. Junior Manny Gumina lost his semifinal at third singles, but beat a Greendale opponent to finish at 17-7 while the third doubles team of seniors Steven Fons and Nick Mihalyi (19-4) beat a Greendale pair in their consolation match.
Sophomore Jack Gumina (21-5) was fourth at fourth singles.
Overall, Champion was pleased with the effort.
"I'm very happy for the boys, they earned everything they got," she said.
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