Freshman Sarah Henderson shines at WIAC tennis tournament

Blugolds place third as a team

Story by Trent Tetzlaff, Copy Editor

Freshman Sarah Henderson became the first Blugold since Katie Gillman in 2012 to take home a conference championship in singles play to help lead the UW-Eau Claire tennis to a third -place finish last weekend at the WIAC Championship, hosted in Madison.

The top-seeded Henderson, who competed at the No. 6 singles spot, won the championship, defeating Rachael Wabers of UW- La Crosse 7-5, 6-3.

Henderson said she can credit her individual success and the team’s success to the work ethic they have carried throughout the year.

“With the hard work in practices and with my teammates pushing me, I was always able to give 110 percent,” she said. “Our team always strives to be great by conditioning with extra effort and always pushing each other to get better.”

Gillman said he has nothing but great things to say about all of his athletes and their attitudes this season, but Henderson has really stood out.

“Sarah is a young player, which means she still has a lot to learn, but her attitude is what really has impressed me,” he said. “She seems to never get rattled and her mental makeup seems to make her stronger than most freshman.”

Henderson said she doesn’t like to get ahead of herself, but when it comes to improving herself for the spring and next fall season, she can become more decisive with her shot selection and work on having an even steadier forehand.

Outside of Henderson, the rest of the singles performers showed strongly as well.

Senior Maddie Rossebo advanced to the final match of No. 4 singles, where she came in second, and senior Maddie Johnson took third place at No. 1 singles, which marks her fourth year of placing at the championships.

In doubles, all three Blugold duos finished third in their seedings.  Each pair of Blugolds won their third place match by similar 8-3 scores as well.

During the ceremony after the tournament, Johnson was named the Judy Kruckman Scholar-Athlete. Johnson is the 10th Blugold to earn such high honors and the second in the last three years.

Gillman said that the scholar award in some ways is one of the best awards you can win at this level, and that only three athletes have won it during his tenure here which began in 2001.

“The award itself is an extremely prestigious honor,” Gillman said. “You must be a great athlete, hold at least a 3.5 GPA all while volunteering and staying on top of school work.”

The Blugolds are off until the spring season picks up in March when the women will travel out east for their spring break tournament where they will play five matches over the span of a week.

“Over the winter the girls will set goals and put an emphasis on making improvements,” Gillman said. “Non-starters will have the opportunity to become starters and our current starters can move up before spring arrives.”