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Northstars Shining Bright Early On

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Waukesha North senior James Winters returns a shot during a dual match against Waukesha West on April 18. The Northstars are 10-3 overall and 3-0 in the Classic 8, which is the best start since coach Nick Maske took over the program eight years ago.

By Matt Cohen

Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA — It’s been the best start Waukesha North tennis coach Nick Maske has seen since taking over the program eight years ago.

The Northstars are 10-3 overall and 3-0 in the Classic 8 Conference. They won the Waukesha Invitational earlier in the season and were runners- up at the Blackshirt Invitational on Saturday only behind Whitefish Bay.

“Right now at this point my team is probably more motivated and more driven in the season than we’ve had in the past few years,” Maske said. “So it speaks a lot to their credit.”

Additionally, North beat Waukesha South at the Blackshirt Invitational in a dual match — which counted in the conference standings — Friday for the first time since 2012.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” Maske said. “It just shows our guys are where they need to be. I don’t think our guys have even peaked yet. I’m hoping they haven’t peaked yet, it’s a little early for that, but they’re playing as strong as they need to be right now.”

Despite losing to Whitefish Bay 7-0 at the invitational, Maske was pleased with how his team competed against one of the top teams in the state.

“It still gave us a lot of confidence to come into the rest of the season because the boys really played well despite not winning any of the matches,” he said. “We were pretty close in a couple of them and even some of the blowouts were good matches, so we rebounded right from that and came back and played one of the toughest teams from the other part of our sectional.”

The team beat Westosha Central 6-1 on Monday and play Arrowhead today, which will be a test.

“That will be a true test. They’re always one of the true powerhouses of the Classic 8 Conference, this is probably one of the stronger teams that I remember them having, but it will be interesting to see tomorrow how we match up.

“If we can pull out some games, take some of those matches into a third set, I really think other teams will look at us and say they’re a force to be reckoned with.”

Seniors Ben Bue, Matt Ewert, Mike Beffel, Jackson Venske and James Winters have been leading the way this season.

“Some seniors are just motivated to win,” Maske said. “They’re motivated to win and know it’s their last chance to prove they belong on the same court as some of these top teams.”

Winters is currently 10-1 at the No. 3 singles spot. His only loss came against Whitefish Bay on Saturday.

“I just go out there, Coach Maske does a great job of preparing me. I just play my game, see where it takes me and do the best I can,” Winters said. “We’re feeling pretty good. We know we’re playing some of our best tennis then we have in a while and we’re just going to see where it can take us.”

Maske is happy with how Winters has led his team this season, despite not being acaptain.

“James is definitely one of my leaders,” Maske said. “He demonstrates what needs to happen and he has the perseverance that even if he drops a set, he can pull out some great shots and move on to the next one.”

Bue and Ewert have played four matches together at No. 1 doubles. Bue played No. 1 singles to start the season, but has recently been paired with Ewert to form a stronger doubles team that Maske said will stick for the rest of the season.

Bue has played varsity for four seasons and was 17-1 last season at No. 3 singles. The whole team and all the seniors are feeling good about the start.

“It is an individual game, but the team morale I think is higher than it’s ever been in my time here,” Winters said. “It’s a great group of guys and we’re excited to see where the season goes.”

Maske said the guys look forward to training each day and aren’t looking to far forward at the long-term goal of potentially being the first team in school history to reach team state, despite the successful start.

“Our team is one of those teams that work super hard during training and they look forward to training. They don’t need matches all the time,” Maske said. “They’re motivated, they know what it takes to win, but we’re still too early in the season, we’re looking at each day as the next thing.”

Right now, that next thing is Arrowhead.

“We’re definitely looking forward to it to prepare us for the conference tournament because we know they’re going to be one of our top competitors,” Winters said. “So it’s nice to get a feel where we’re at.”

Email: mcohen@conleynet.com

Waukesha North senior Mike Beffel returns a shot during the subsectionals last season. Beffel is one of the 12 seniors on this year’s varsity team.
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