Bianca Andersen lofts a tennis ball into the air to start a serve at a Southern Lakes Conference tournament in the fall. Andersen, a Wilmot senior, later captured a sectional title en route to her third consecutive state appearance. She was named The Report’s Female Athlete of the Year (Photo courtesy of Nick Parisi/The Report).

By Jason Arndt
Editor

In Southern Lakes Conference play, regardless of sport, not many student-athletes can say they have played as consistently as Wilmot Union High School’s Bianca Andersen.

Andersen, a senior tennis player, captured four consecutive first team All-Conference honors, two conference Player of the Year awards and two conference championships.

For two full seasons, up until her senior year, Andersen went unbeaten in both regular season conference dual meets and at the conference tournament.

Andersen, whose career includes three consecutive WIAA Division 1 state appearances, captured her first sectional title as senior.

In her senior season, where she overcame some adversity, Andersen compiled a 22-4 overall record entering the state meet at Nielsen Tennis Stadium on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Andersen, seeded 12th at the state meet, defeated Oshkosh North’s Courtney Day (6-1, 6-1) and advanced to the second round for the third consecutive year.

Although Andersen dropped the second round match, she took opponent Natasha Bailey, of Wausau West, to the third set.

Additionally, since she advanced to the second round, Andersen finished in the upper half among 56 athletes who qualified for the meet.

Her senior milestone along with banner career for the Panthers has earned the 2018 Report Female Athlete of the Year selected by staff.

Maintaining mental toughness
Andersen, when asked about who she tries to emulate, she pointed to Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka, from Belarus, owns 20 World Tennis Association singles titles and was ranked No. 1 in 2012.

“I try to emulate Azarenka from the pro tour because she always has a clean ball strike and has great mental toughness,” Andersen said.

The mental toughness, according to Andersen, is something she needed when playing against anyone from Lake Geneva Badger through her four seasons.

Lake Geneva, which captured its third consecutive SLC team title last fall, always sent a different athlete to play against her.

Freshman Zaya Iderzul was the most recent Badger player to challenge Andersen.

Andersen, who went undefeated in SLC dual meets her sophomore and junior seasons, opened her senior slate against Iderzul.

While Andersen won her first meeting with Iderzul, which handed the Badgers their lone regular season loss among all flights in SLC play, the Badger freshman bounced back in the conference tournament.

Entering the tournament hosted by Wilmot, Andersen was still unbeaten in conference, adding two more wins in the opening rounds to set up a championship showdown with Iderzul.

Iderzul, who lost the first set, eventually came away with the victory to deny Andersen a third straight conference title.

Despite the loss, Andersen stayed positive and composed following the meet, telling The Report she can come back from it.

“I played a tough match and I can come back when I am down,” she said.

She later admitted Iderzul brought her the biggest challenge in her four years.

“The school that gave me the toughest challenge throughout the years was Badger and the player that gave me the toughest competition was Zaya Iderzul,” Andersen said.

“Every year, I had a different player from Badger to compete against. Each of them played very differently than the one the year before, so by working on the mental aspect of my game, I was able to compete at a high level against Badger every year.”

Overcoming adversity
Andersen, who made state as a special qualifier her first two seasons, wanted an automatic bid as a senior.

Andersen, who advanced to sectionals at Lake Geneva Badger on Oct. 3, edged Watertown’s Aubrey Schmutzler, 6-0, 6-2, and Cecile Fuchs of DeForest, 6-3, 6-3.

The two wins, meanwhile, set up a third meeting with Iderzul.

“I just had to go in and play my game and do my best,” Andersen said at the time. “I put all of my focus
into that match because I knew it was important and really wanted to win.”

In another tightly contested match, Andersen edged Iderzul, this time 7-6 (4), 6-4 to capture her first career sectional title.

The sectional tile, according to Andersen, was a goal she established after her junior season.

“After my loss junior year, my private coach and I worked on tweaking small things in my game (and) that made a big difference,” Andersen said. “Also remembering that it was my senior year gave me incentive to push harder in every match.”

Looking ahead
Andersen, who began playing tennis when she was 7 years old, will continue competing in the sport at Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia.

Brenau University is part of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

“What attracted me to Brenau University was the tennis and interior design programs,” she said. “It was hard to find colleges in the part of the country I wanted to live in with my intended major and a tennis team.”

After meeting with campus officials, including the dean of the interior design department, Anderson knew it was an ideal fit.

“I was hooked after that. I can not wait to start my next journey there,” she said.

 
 

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