Fall Creek’s Sean Bochman could have put together a checklist with some lofty expectations for himself entering his first year of varsity tennis, and they would have been entirely realistic.
Take a No. 1 singles role? Check.
Go undefeated through the regular season? Check.
Win a sectional championship? Check.
Bochman won the No. 1 singles Division 2 sectional title for the Altoona/Fall Creek co-op in Eau Claire on Thursday, running his record on the season to 18-0. The junior’s performance put his name in the history books: With the win, he became the first Fall Creek tennis player to ever earn a berth to the state tournament.
“It feels pretty good,” Bochman said. “I actually wasn’t even really thinking about it until I realized this is the first year of the co-op, so I said, ‘Oh yeah, I suppose.’ But yeah, it’s pretty cool.”
Altoona and Fall Creek are co-opping for the first time this year, and Bochman is the only player from Fall Creek. He has made an immediate impact in his first year in the high school game.
The junior ran rampant on the competition in the No. 1 singles bracket on Thursday, not dropping a set on his way to the title. He defeated Sparta’s Patrick Wagner 6-2, 6-1 in the quarterfinals and Sauk Prairie’s Noah Wankerl 6-1, 6-0 in the semis. That set up a championship match with Madison Edgewood’s Donovan Pfaff. After taking the first set 6-3, Bochman cruised to a 6-0 victory in the second set to win the flight.
“He’s brought a lot to the team with that momentum, that confidence,” coach Greg Emerson said.
“He brings just a whole different level of tennis and confidence to this team that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Elsewhere in the sectional, Regis dropped all of its matches on the day but came in fourth as a team thanks to a strong showing at subsectionals.
The No. 2 doubles team of Brent Martin and Andrew Millington won the only set of the day for Regis.
Madison Edgewood won the sectional team title with 43 points.
Prior to playing with the high school team, Bochman primarily competed in United States Tennis Association tournaments and worked on his game at the YMCA, taking lessons and practicing whenever he could. He couldn’t play for his high school because the Crickets didn’t have a team, but that didn’t keep him off the courts.
“He’s probably the hardest-working kid I’ve ever seen in tennis,” Emerson said. “He hits five, six times a week. He’s got aspirations of playing Division I, and if he keeps going, he’ll be able to do that.”
At USTA tournaments, Bochman generally faced high quality opponents. He didn’t always win, but it served him well in getting ready for a run to the sectional title. Some of the competition was similar to high school opponents, some wasn’t.
“It depends on who I’m playing. Like the match I played (in the finals on Thursday), I played a lot like that in the (tournaments). I’ve gotten killed in the (tournaments) before too, and some of the matches were a lot easier,” Bochman said.
It might have been somewhat intimidating at first being the only player on the co-op not attending Altoona, but Bochman warmed up to the situation quickly. His teammates made that easy for him.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the team, because I didn’t really know many of the guys. But after getting to know them, I really like them,” he said. “They were all here today supporting me even though their matches were done, that was really cool.”
Bochman has a shot at being a top four seed at the individual state tournament next week. If that happens, it would be another piece of Fall Creek history that he can claim.
Ultimately though, Bochman is looking for the most impressive piece of history. He’s aiming for the Division 2 state championship.
Madison Edgewood 43, La Crosse Logan 38, Ashland 29, Regis 22, Sauk Prairie 19, La Crosse Aquinas 16, Amery 12, Altoona/Fall Creek 12, Baldwin-Woodville 10, Sparta 6, Black River Falls 4, Ellsworth 2, Osceola 2, Medford 2, Mauston 0, Portage 0, Viroqua 0.
No. 1 singles
Quarterfinals: Sean Bochman (AFC) def. Patrick Wagner (S) 6-2, 6-1; Donovan Pfaff (ME) def. Nati Raehl (ECR) 6-2, 6-0. Semifinals: Bochman (AFC) def. Noah Wankerl (SP) 6-2, 6-0. Final: Bochman (AFC) def. Pfaff (ME) 6-3, 6-0.
No. 4 singles
Semifinals: Sean Ghanian (ME) def. Keaton Comero (ECR) 6-1, 7-5.
No. 1 doubles
Quarterfinals: Connor Roop/Alex Bennett (LCA) def. Christian Theyerl/Trevor Kempen (AFC) 6-0, 6-2; Hunter Dunn/Forrest Lynn (ME) def. Austin Erickson/Tucker Comero (ECR) 6-3, 6-3; Parker Chrisler/Kelby Mack (SP) def. Nick Wlodyga/Brandon Dierich (BW) 6-4, 6-0.
No. 2 doubles
Semifinals: Brad Vandenberg-Daves/Bodin Nystrom (LCL) def. Brent Martin/Andrew Millington (ECR) 6-2, 2-6, 7-5; Kurtis Thelen/Chase Korb (ME) def. Zach Nilssen/Sam Brock (BW) 7-5, 6-0.
No. 3 doubles
Semifinals: Andrew Topolski/Carson Haag (LCA) def. Mitchell Merkel/Bennett Seelen (ECR) 6-4, 7-5.