To no one's surprise, the Brookfield East boys tennis team walked away with the top honors June 2-4 at the WIAA State Boys Individual Tennis Championships.
After finishing second the past two seasons, top-seeded senior David Horneffer won his first state championship. In the title game, he easily had his most difficult challenge and defeated (4-6, 6-2, 7-5) second-seeded junior Robert Krill, his teammate and practice partner, who struggled with a cramp in his left leg in the second set.
Krill, who finished third last year and fifth as a freshman, had a trainer work on his leg, but the pain flared up in the final set, and Horneffer, who hurt his oblique muscle in the second set, took advantage of it.
The match was the most competitive one for both players, as they breezed through the early rounds like a knife through butter.
'They hardest thing for players to do (face teammates),' East coach Linda Lied said. 'You have respect for each other. You have mental adjustments to make. Dave is quick and likes to get off to a fast start. Rob is great at returning shots, but he is not a grinder. He looks for the opportunity to go after balls and score.
Both players were injured during the match, as Horneffer hurt his oblique (he thought he broke his rib), and Krill kept cramping up, which affected his game in the end.
Lied was happy for Horneffer, who has a 4.7 GPA and will attend Dartmouth. He has a 94-5 record, a .950 winning percentage.
'I'm ecstatic for him,' she said. 'I am very proud of him. He's a nice kid. He was under tremendous pressure from the media fans; he was supposed to win. That can cause a lot of sleepness nights.'
Horneffer (23-0), who received a bye in the first round, defeated freshman Aiden Schutter (21-9) of Sun Prairie (6-1, 6-0), 16th-seeded sophomore Patrick Conta (16-7) of Whitefish Bay (6-0, 6-2), eighth-seeded senior Mark Johnson (22-0) of Hudson (6-0, 6-3) and fifth-seeded junior Ethan Mardanus-Budiono (14-7) of Marquette (6-1, 6-1).
Krill (22-1) received a bye and then defeated special qualifier junior Caleb Schifano (24-1) of Marquette (6-0, 6-0), 15th-seeded junior Daniel Moore (25-4) of Kenosha Tremper (6-1, 6-0), 10th-seeded freshman Will Tennison (21-6) of Verona Area (6-1, 6-0) and third-seeded Ryan Risgaard (24-2) of Neenah (6-2, 6-2).
Top-seeded seniors Patrick Krill/Doug Francken (17-0) rolled over second-seeded senior Alan Desai and junior Grant Mauthe (22-1) of Neenah (6-0, 6-0) to win the title.
Francken had been to state three times in singles, taking sixth as a sophomore. Krill has been to state doubles four times, the first three with Henry Termuehen. They finished second last year and won in 2014.
Lied was happy for Francken, who had been buried as a third and fourth singles player.
'I was thrilled,' she said. 'People didn't realize how good he was playing singles because we had all those great players playing ahead of him. He's won some huge matches for us over the years. He is going to Michigan State, so it was nice to get some doubles competition for him this year.
'Patrick and Doug said they played together since they were 6 years old. Their chemistry was great. Patrick was more take charge this year with Henry gone. He grew up a lot. They had great confidence in each other.'
At one point, the Neenah coach came over and asked Lied if they could just miss a shot or two to show they're human. And both Neenah players, when they were shaking hands afterwards, said they thought Krill/Francken were amazing.
The Spartan duo received a bye and then defeated special qualifiers sophomore Robbie May/Jake Stockhausen (13-1) of Marquette (6-2, 6-2), 16th-seeded junior Carter Brown/sophomore Kyler Kappes (15-5) of Neenah (6-1, 6-2), eighth-seeded junior Jack Steinberger/sophomore Eli Winter (13-4) of Nicolet (6-0, 6-3) and 12th-seeded junior Ben Sinense/sophomore Noah Guillermo of Marquette (6-2, 6-3).
Third-seeded seniors Carlos Flores Komatsu/Henry Mirsberger of Brookfield Central (19-4) received a bye and then defeated special qualifiers juniors Kevin Dunn/Evan Loken (18-6) of Madison La Follette (6-2, 6-0), special qualifiers 14th-seeded junior Sydan Parker/sophomore Robby Baranko (26-4) of Homestead (6-0, 6-3), and sixth-seeded seniors Nick Kallman/Danny Royston (11-4) of Marquette (7-6(2), 6-4).
They then lost to second-seeded Desai/Grant Mauthe (18-0) of Neenah (6-2, 6-3) and played for third place against 12th-seeded Sinense/Guillermo of Marquette, winning a battle (6-0, 2-6, 6-4).
The 13th-seeded seniors Gunther Treis/Sam Schreiner of Brookfield Central (11-4) defeated sophomore Corey Dreier/freshman Colin Fluegge (13-10) of Menomonee Falls (6-1, 6-3) and senior Brennan Gregg/Ben Rackovan (12-6) of Whitefish Bay (6-1, 6-0). They then lost to fourth-seeded seniors Johnny Zanotti/Mitch Pralle (23-6) of Arrowhead (1-6, 7-6(5), 6-4).
Special qualifiers seniors Ben Peterson/Saad Khan (19-9) of Brookfield Central defeated sophomores Andrew Olson/ Elijah Schimelpfenig (19-8) of Sun Prairie (6-2, 6-2) in the first round. In the second round, they battled eighth-seeded junior Jack Steinberger/sophomore Eli Winter (13-4) of Nicolet but lost (6-0, 6-7(3), 6-0).
'Everyone played well,' coach Dave Steinbach said. 'They battled Nicolet to three sets. Our No. 1 doubles team gave a great effort, and our No. 2 doubles went a couple of rounds with Arrowhead. They battled like crazy.'
Another highlight was Flores-Komatsu/Mirsberger beating Marquette doubles twice, including in the third-place match.
The Lancers will head back to the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison for the WIAA Boys Team Tennis Championship on Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11.
They will play Waukesha South in the quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. Friday June 10. If they win, they will play the winner of the Eau Claire Memorial/Neenah match at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 11. The title game is set for 2 p.m.