Double threat: Olivia Haessly and Emily Serchen’s improbable postseason
A bout with mononucleosis is not enough to derail Marshfield’s No. 1 doubles team’s march to state
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — The run that Marshfield High School seniors Olivia Haessly and Emily Serchen made to the 2015 WIAA State Individual Girls Tennis Championships in Madison is something that just two weeks ago seemed inconceivable.
The Tigers’ No. 1 doubles team had put together a successful season, but suddenly, Serchen was stricken with mononucleosis prior to Marshfield’s final dual meet of the season on Sept. 24.
The illness kept Serchen out of the Wisconsin Valley Conference Tournament and had her postseason hopes in peril.
However, she recovered in time to rejoin Haessly for the subsectionals on Oct. 5, and the two put together two wins in a row to qualify for their first state tournament.
Haessly and Serchen took on Frankie Ragonese and Lauren Sinese of Milwaukee Divine Savior Holy Angels in the first round of the Division 1 doubles brackets at the state meet Thursday at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium in Madison.
“She was diagnosed right before our last conference match, so we honestly didn’t think that we would have a chance at making it to state or even sectionals,” Haessly said. “It was cool to get there. It was a miracle.”
Serchen said she was worried her season might be over.
“They told me to stay home and sleep, and I was out for a week,” Serchen said. “I came back to practice, and we went to subsectionals. That was my first match, and we won that match and went to sectionals and won that.
“Mono can take a long time to get out of your system, so I didn’t know how long it was going to last. I was lucky that it only lasted for about a week or a week and half.”
The Marshfield duo defeated AnnMarie White and Alli Norder of Menomonie 6-2, 6-0 in the quarterfinals at the Chippewa Falls sectional on Oct. 8 to qualify for state.
Haessly and Serchen were swept in their next two matches by teams from Stevens Point and Rhinelander, but they did enough to make it to the state meet, and that is all they could ask for.
“It’s a great way to end our senior season,” Haessly said. “We’re just thankful to be going. Win or lose, we’re happy with where we ended.”
Serchen and Haessly, who are cousins, have played together at No. 1 doubles for the past two seasons. They each said they have learned each other’s games and have a sense of where the other will be at any given point during a match.
“We’re cousins, so we didn’t really have to form a relationship,” Serchen said. “We know each other really well, and it wasn’t hard playing with Olivia at all.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.