The Verona Area High School girls tennis team returns a lot of firepower from a team that made a surprise run to the alternate fall state tournament last spring.

The Wildcats return nine starters, led by senior Samantha Breitbach, a state qualifier at No. 1 singles, and the No. 1 doubles team of senior Morgan Kreuser and junior Julia Huseth, who were also state qualifiers.

“We have a very talented, deep, and experienced team,” Verona coach Mark Happel said. “The girls have all worked very hard this summer and have improved.”

The other singles players back are senior Elsa Queoff at No. 2 singles and junior Zoe Quershi at No. 3 singles. Quershi was the sectional champion at No. 3 singles and Queoff was the sectional runner-up at No. 2 singles last spring.

The top three doubles teams for the Wildcats are all back. At No. 3 doubles, junior Erin Nick and sophomore Annie Nick were sectional champions last spring and juniors Andrea Chavez-Lazaro and Morgan Witkowski were the sectional runner-up at No. 2 doubles.

Middleton, the defending WIAA Division 1 state champion, is expected to be the favorite to win the Big Eight Conference this year. Madison Memorial and Madison West also will vie for the conference title, with several returning state qualifiers.

“We hope to compete for a top half finish in the Big Eight Conference,” Happel said.

The top teams in Verona’s sectional are Middleton, Madison West, Madison Memorial, Waunakee and Monona Grove.

“We are in by far and away the strongest and most talented subsectional in the state,” Happel said. “Our subsectional is absolutely stacked with some of the top teams in the state.”

Madison La Follette sophomore Annalise Yang won the alternate fall state tennis championship last spring over Madison Memorial sophomore Lily Olson. The other returning singles state qualifier for the Spartans is senior Nikita Remesh.

The two singles state qualifiers back for Middleton are sophomore Netra Somasundaram and junior Sophia Agapov. Middleton senior Rose Ryan also played No. 1 doubles at state last year.

The Regents return senior Abby Lin, who played No. 1 doubles, and Trya Gustavson, who also played doubles last year.

Verona opens the season at La Crosse Logan on Monday, Aug. 16.

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