The history of the Menomonee Falls boys tennis program is not a particularly strong or storied one.
There was state place-winner and Falls Hall of Famer Kent Smith starring at Falls North in the early 1970s and a few years later state qualifier John Buckley, also at North.
In the intervening years, there have been a few more state qualifiers here and there but no overwhelming breakthroughs individually or team-wise. The program, like many others in the area, has had a hard time breaking through the largely unbreakable area glass ceiling of Marquette; Brookfield East and Central; Homestead; Whitefish Bay; Nicolet; etc.
Enter this year's Indians squad. They are not going to frighten the aforementioned empires in terms of individual talent, but they are certainly making a name as arguably maybe the best overall team in Falls history.
They won the Germantown Quad on May 5, and then exactly a week later, they made history on May 12 by winning the eight-team Hartford-Slinger Invite. It may be the first large invite of any kind won by a Falls boys tennis program ever.
And they did it in under 40-degree temperatures with flurries in the air.
First-year coach Matt Andreshak was both stunned and proud.
'I don't think the kids understood how big a deal this is,' he said. 'The guys at Hartford gave us a nice little plaque. They weren't really excited about doing that, but we have it. These have been two really solid, good weeks for us. We have a mix of good freshmen and solid seniors, and to get this under our belt is just amazing.'
The Indians will try to build on this recent success as they enter the championship phase of the season this week.
The Greater Metro Conference Tournament was held May 17 and 18, and Falls will head off to WIAA subsectional play at Homestead on Monday, May 23. Qualifiers from there will head to sectional action at Wauwatosa West on Wednesday, May 25.
Andreshak said he has high hopes for team leader and first singles player Danny Balister making it to the WIAA state tournament, which would be icing on the cake to this strong season.
Falls' last state qualifier was Andrew Carlos, who made it in both 2009 and 2010. Carlos won a match at state his senior year of 2010.
Balister would be a fitting follow-up to Carlos as it was he who helped lift this team to its current level, Andreshak said.
'Danny is funny,' Andreshak said. 'He helps keep the team loose, but he's the one who really pushed the team to really put in the time in the off-season. He and others like (freshman) Alex Budde and the Drier brothers (senior Matt and sophomore Cory) spent a lot of time at Pleasant Valley (Tennis Club) over the winter.
'And that gave us a good shot to succeed.'
They succeeded grandly under the difficult conditions out at Hartford on May 12, as the Indians scored 29 points to edge Slinger (27) and Oconomowoc (23) for the title.
They earned two individual flight titles as freshman Budde defeated Waunakee (6-10, 6-0), Howards Grove (6-1, 6-0) and Slinger (6-4, 6-3) for the crown at second singles, while the second doubles team of senior Jim Eisenhauer and sophomore Bo Siebert downed duos from Slinger (6-1, 6-1), Hartford (6-1, 6-1) and Oconomowoc (6-3, 6-0) for their title.
Taking seconds were Balister at first singles, who fell 6-3, 6-4, to a Slinger player in the final; Matt Drier at third singles, who lost a a 6-2, 5-7 (10-4) thriller in the third singles championship; and the first doubles team of Cory Drier and freshman Colin Fluegge, who dropped a 6-3, 6-3 decision to a Waunakee foe.
A third was taken by senior Dylan Tautges at fourth singles and a fifth by the third doubles team of seniors Reuel Kumar and Adam Rubin. Again, Andreshak praised the team's dedication.
'With six seniors in the lineup this year, the players have taken on the challenge to play quality tennis all year long,' said Andreshak. 'The kids really believe they can play with some of the good teams in our league. The youth movement of Alex Budde, Colin Fluegge, Bo Siebert, and Cory Drier have worked hard to balance the team out well this season.'
Andreshak said there was no grand celebration afterward because everyone was so cold when they got back to Falls, they just wanted to go home and get warm.
'Everyone just wanted to get a warm shower and crawl under a blanket,' he said, laughing.
The Indians' energy was a carryover from the successful dual meet week where it competed well against Brookfield Central in a 5-2 loss on May 9 as both Balister and Budde earned wins in singles and Corey Drier and Fluegge lost a tough 6-3, 7-5 decision at first doubles. Falls also whitewashed nonconference opponent Milwaukee King, 7-0, on May 11.