Oregon sophomore Ella Peotter’s path to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament may be a surprise and unexpected by some, but she’s embracing the opportunity on the biggest stage.
“I was not really expecting to make it to state,” Peotter said. “I’m really excited to qualify. I’m a little nervous. I’m really proud to represent Oregon.”
Peotter (11-11) will play Neenah sophomore Annalise Zenzick (26-2) in a first-round match at state at about 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. If she wins her first match, a showdown against sixth-seeded Annalise Yang (23-3) of Madison La Follette awaits.
Peotter started playing tennis at 3 years old. Her father, Steve Peotter, played tennis in high school. Her mother signed her up for tennis lessons and she has been playing ever since.
Oregon coach Joan Mohr said Peotter’s biggest improvement as a player is that she is hitting the ball with more pace.
Peotter played at No. 2 singles in the alternate fall season last spring. She has made the rise to No. 1 singles.
“She is really good at moving her feet,” Mohr said. “She looks at her opponent and knows what she has to do to attack their weaknesses.”
Franklin freshman Kaede Usui (30-0) is the top seed. Sophomore Carolyn Schaefer (26-1) of Divine Savior Holy Angels received the No. 2 seed after finishing fifth at state last year. Senior Zaya Iderzul of Badger is the fourth seed. She qualifies for the fourth straight year. She placed third last season after a runner-up finish in 2019.
Two other area players also earned top eight seeds and a first-round bye. Middleton sophomore Netra Somasundaram (27-4) qualified for state for the second straight year after taking fifth in the alternate fall season last spring, and is the seventh seed. Verona freshman Naisha Nagpal (30-4) is the eighth seed.
Peotter hasn’t played Zenzick before.
“I expect to play well and for there to be a lot of competition,” Peotter said. “I know she (Zenzick) comes from a great program. I just have to go in with a positive mindset. It should be a great match.”
Peotter said the keys to her first-round match against Zenzick are hitting the ball deep, getting her serve in and not being too nervous.