Eau Claire (WQOW) -- The next State Tournament on the WIAA schedule is Boys Tennis, and for the 12th straight season, Eau Claire Memorial will head down to Nielsen Tennis Stadium.
This year's Old Abes are undergoing a youth movement. Steinar Jewett is the only senior on the roster, but the young guns have grown up quickly against some stiff competition, and the growth of this group has Memorial thinking they can go on a run at the State Tournament.
"You can either be a year older, or a year old and a year better, and the kids really worked from last year to keep going down, to get to go down this year," explains head coach Jim Litscher, "That's one of the things that we're really proud of, the consistency."
"We've been super successful the past few years, and that has been our goal since we started, is just getting down to the State Tournament, do some damage, see what we can do," says Jewett.
"We've got a real shot at making it to the final," junior Mark Pepperl thinks, "Even though we've lost to the two teams that we'll most likely have to play, they were both close matches, and I think we have a real shot at winning this one."
The young Old Abes will be tested by third ranked Arrowhead in the first round. Memorial dropped their early season matchup with Arrowhead 5-2, but three of those games were decided by a tiebreak. Seven of the Old Abes have also already been down to Madison for the Individual State Tournament last week, so they're not daunted by the venue, or their opponent.
"At Nielsen it can feel like it goes by super fast, and all of a sudden, you're just down because you're blowing balls and the environment's different," says junior Sam Rechek, "You're looking into the stands. It's a different environment, it's a really cool environment, and it's a lot of fun to play there."
"The nerves are a big part of it," Pepperl says, "Playing at individual State definitely helps because it gets you ready for this."
"Just worry about one point at a time, just go one point at a time," Jewett intones, "I just want to get to the end, that's been our goal since we started. I just want to get to the end and see what happens."
Eau Claire Memorial will face Arrowhead in the State Quarterfinals, Friday, at 5:30 P.M.