Bohl, Engel; the most successful Tiger tennis state entry ever
Jeff Engel and Charlie Bohl accomplished something no New Richmond tennis players have ever accomplished before.
Engel and Bohl reached the state championship doubles match in the WIAA Division 2 State Tennis Championships in Madison on Saturday.
In the state championship match Bohl and Engel faced last year's state champions Erich Palacek and Kelvin Caiati of Greendale. The Tigers were able to lead 3-2 in both sets, but the Greendale duo was able to come back to win the state championship by scores of 6-4, 6-4.
Bohl and Engel finished second in this year's state tournament after placing fourth in the state Division 2 doubles bracket last year. Their fourth place finish a year ago had matched the best finish ever by a New Richmond entry in the state tennis tournament.
The New Richmond duo holds another distinction. They are the only entry who reached the state finals in either division in the last two years who wasn't from the Milwaukee, Madison or Racine areas.
Mike Montello, who is retiring after coaching the Tiger boys the past five seasons, tried to put the success of Bohl and Engel into perspective.
"I would imagine it will be a very long time, if ever, that anyone from this area accomplishes what these two kids did," Montello said. "We go to Madison and we encounter plenty of "club" players. These are kids who play in USTA tournaments in the summer, have private tennis instructors in the off-season and have access to facilities to develop their game."
Montello used the Nicolet team as an example. All seven of their flights reached the state tournament and all three of their doubles teams placed among the top six teams in the state tournament.
Bohl and Engel received an opening round bye after being seeded second in the Division 2 doubles bracket.
In their opening match, they faced Brad Jacobs and Anthony Sendik of University School of Milwaukee, who brought a 15-1 record into the match.The Tigers cruised through the first set, 6-1, before some nervousness set in during the second set, which they lost 6-0. They regained their composure, winning the third set 6-2.
Montello said being seeded second in the state can be a heavy burden.
"These kids felt the weight of the world on their shoulders by having that seed," he said.
That win moved them into the state quarterfinals against the seventh seed, a team from Two Rivers. In the first set each team held their serve in each game, sending the set into a tie-breaker. Two Rivers took a 3-1 lead in the breaker, but Bohl and Engel then got on a run, taking five straight points to control the tie-breaker.
In the second set the Tigers played composed, controlled tennis and were able to win 6-3 to advance to the state semifinals.
In the semifinals they met Bryan Fondrie and Ben Sweeney, a pair of seniors from Shorewood who brought a 22-4 record into the match. This was a match that lasted more than two hours and tested the wills of both teams. New Richmond won the opening set 6-4, but Shorewood came back to win the second set in a tie-breaker. The third set was close the entire way, before Bohl and Engel finished it off with a 6-4 win.
That led to the championship match. Bohl and Engel took a 21-0 record in the title match against the defending champions. The Tigers had an hour break between matches before starting the state finals.
New Richmond led 3-2 in each set, before falling behind 5-3. Each time, they came back to win a game and make the score 5-4 before Greendale's defending champions could win each set.
"Their service game was too strong and consistent for us to break to get back to 5-5," Montello said.
Montello said the performance by Bohl and Engel will stand as a landmark for players from the western side of the state.
"For two kids from this area to do what they did at the state tournament, in today's era of specialization, is incredible. These two always handled themselves in a way that can make their school and community proud of them and not just on the tennis court," Montello said.
Engel and Bohl leave a great tennis legacy. Along with being two-time state placewinners, Engel is a three-time sectional champion and Bohl is a two-time sectional champion. Last year they finished as runner-ups at the sectional level.
Rehurek and Bethke
New Richmond's two doubles team, Dan Bethke and Brian Rehurek, qualified for state with a 20-5 record. They drew a team from The Prairie School of Racine and were defeated 6-0, 6-1.
"Dan and Brian ended up playing a team that served and hit the ball like you never see at two doubles, at least not in this part of the state," Montello said. "They have a gallant effort but their opponent was too much for them."
New Richmond one singles player Marvin Rettenmaier was selected to be an extra qualifier for the state singles tournament. Being an extra qualifier also means you'll likely draw a top player at the state meet.
That happened, with Rettenmaier drawing undefeated Tim Horton of Racine St. Catherine's. Horton won the match 6-1, 6-1, then went on to finish fifth in the Division 2 singles bracket.