MAYVILLE — If you build it, they will come.
Out for tennis, that is.
Six years after a grant from the Bachhuber Foundation — the lasting legacy of the late Ted and Grace Bachhuber, who were instrumental in founding the Mayville Engineering Corporation in 1945 — made possible the construction of a $250,000 outdoor tennis facility at Mayville High School, the Cardinals’ upstart girls tennis program is thriving.
And that was on full display Thursday as Mayville used a pair of forfeit victories and wins at Nos. 2 and 3 singles and No. 2 doubles to upend Flyway Conference foe Oshkosh Lourdes 5-2.
“We’ve got really good numbers and we have a lot of enthusiasm for the program, and that’s not an easy thing to do because they come out of the middle school and they’ve never played tennis before,” said John Wild, the head coach of the team since its official inception in 2015.
The tennis courts are a big reason girls are drawn to give the sport a try when they get to high school.
But what makes the program sustainable is that the Ted and Grace Bachhuber Aquatic and Fitness Center in Mayville — the facility known as the TAG Center was also funded by the Bachhuber Foundation — has indoor tennis courts, making it possible for girls to hone their skills throughout the winter and, as was the case Wednesday, practice inside when it’s raining in the summer and fall.
Add it all up and momentum for girls tennis in Mayville is really building, so much so that Wild is hopeful he’ll be able to get a fifth- and sixth-grade program started this winter.
He’s not alone in pushing the program forward, though — he’s also got the help of Sig Schecker, who is in her first year as assistant coach and is the one who put in for the grant to build the new courts in 2012 in order to get a girls tennis program going at Mayville High School.
The courts were finished in 2013 and Mayville gauged interest in participation that year before enough girls came out in 2014 that the team could hold practices.
A year later, the team joined the Flyway Conference on a probationary basis — the WIAA wanted to make sure numbers were going to be sustainable before admitting Mayville for postseason play — and then in 2016 the program was off the ground and running for good.
It didn’t take long for success to come, either, as the Cardinals were the conference runners-up last season in year three, a showing they’re poised to repeat this year.
Mayville certainly took care of business Thursday, with the forfeit wins coming at No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles and the other wins turned in by Alaina Hazelberg at No. 2 singles (6-3, 6-2 over Sophia Nielson), Oliva Boeck at No. 3 singles (6-1, 6-0 over Brooklyn Baker) and the No. 2 doubles team of Emily Schellpfeffer and Lexi Janzer (6-2, 6-0 over Marley Wesenberg and Cherry Lee).
But the highlight of the evening for Mayville was in the loss at No. 1 doubles, where Emily Boeck and McKenna Podbrscek took Maria Tushar and Alexis Rolph to three sets only to fall by the score of 6-2, 2-6, 6-2.
They “played the best match of their life so far,” Wild said, pointing to the fact that “they volleyed better” as the reason.
“We worked on that so much last night — about 2½ hours inside last night, we worked on just volleying, because they weren’t volleying at the net; they weren’t moving to the right spots,” he added. “Whoever took the net over and won the net was going to win the match — whoever won in the volleying department. Ground strokes are nothing in doubles.”
Wild also heaped praise on Hazelberg.
“She’s such a strong player. I think she lost only two (matches) last year in conference and she’s right on track again to be one of the top ones in the conference,” Wild said. “Year after year, she’s just been really, really strong for us, and tonight she showed it again.”
Hazelberg, like the other girls on the team this year as well as in recent years, has the Bachhuber Foundation to thank for the state-of-the-art facilities that have made the program possible.
Ted Bachhuber and his uncle, Leo, were the ones who founded Mayville Engineering Corporation. And by 1982, Ted and his wife, Grace, used the success of the company to found the Bachhuber Foundation, which in addition to the new tennis courts and the TAG Center has also had a big hand in several other big undertakings in Mayville and has established a scholarship fund for students interested in pursuing careers in business or technology.
The Cardinals girls tennis team is currently 4-1 in the Flyway Conference, with the only setback being a 7-0 loss to Neenah St. Mary Catholic.
“They’re definitely the (conference title) favorite — they’re really, really strong,” Wild said. “I was hoping we could dent their armor a little bit this year, but we went up there and I think we were mentally a little bit out of it. Hopefully we’ll have a little better showing next time.”
That time will be in a couple weeks, but first Mayville has two dates with Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs — another contender in the five-member conference that also includes Clintonville.
Regardless of how this year’s race shakes out, Mayville’s program looks like it has a bright future ahead.
And the Cardinals are plenty thankful for the forces that have made that possible.
“We’re very lucky in Mayville,” Wild said.
Singles: No. 1 — Emily Holland, OLA, def. Taylor Trost, 6-2, 6-2. No. 2 — Alaina Hazelberg, M, def. Sophia Nelson, 6-3, 6-2. No. 3 — Olivia Boeck, M, def. Brooklyn Baker, 6-1, 6-0. No. 4 — Jenna Pasbrig, M, won by forfeit.
Doubles: No. 1 — Maria Tushar/Alexis Rolph, OLA, def. Emily Boeck/McKenna Podbrscek, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. No. 2 — Emily Schellpfeffer/Lexi Janzer, M, def. Marley Wesenberg/Cherry Lee, 6-2, 6-0. No. 3 — Kendall Pliner/Shelly Liebenow, M, won by forfeit.