Balloons and cupcakes were on hand Wednesday at St. Charles East's tennis courts.
Most of the past four years it's been volleys and forehand smashes for senior Erin Bowman, the cause for the celebration.
Bowman was honored among the select few Saints girls to have won 100 career matches, and her name will go on the shed near the tennis court with the others. The last to break the barrier was Bowman's doubles partner of two years ago, Stefanie Youngberg, with 112 career wins.
Saints coach Sena Drawer, a 25-year veteran, said Bowman's attitude is conducive to the doubles game.
"She's a real team player, and if people watch her they're sort of amazed in what she can accomplish in almost sort of a casual approach. She's never in a frenzy or anything, she just gets out there and does it, so she provides somewhat of a calmness," Drawer said.
"She's a big hitter but she's somewhat calm, and I think that has a nice affect on her partners. As a freshman she played with a senior, and when she was a sophomore she played with a senior. As a junior she played with a senior, though last year she was more experienced so she had to take on a leadership role. That flexibility and how she learns to deal with her different partners and her relationship with her partners is really, I think, fun to watch."
After Wednesday's victory over Wheaton Warrenville South, Bowman and her current partner, senior Claire Hafner were 12-2.
Bowman qualified for state as a freshman with Amanda Gomez, placed ninth in doubles with Youngberg in 2008, and was Honorable-Mention All-State with Lexi Baltes as a junior.
Bowman may be short in stature but she's big with her right hand, and her levelheaded approach makes her a good student of the game.
"She's very curious," Drawer said. "When we do a drill she wants to know why we're doing the drill. She always wants to know who's coming (to play), do I know the record.
"I think that's sort of interesting, because most kids just get out there and play, but it's a nice little part of her personality that I enjoy."
Maybe it's because the tutor sees a little of herself in the student.
"It'd be nice to think that sometime in the future she'll be a coach," Drawer said. "I think she'll probably always play club tennis, after college. She could contribute an awful lot to a coaching situation."
Playing in Peoria
As of Tuesday, Kaneland senior Drew French hadn't told his teachers he'd be missing a few days of school.
Hopefully they're lenient or they're baseball fans.
After a Sept. 19 tryout at Milwaukee Technical Institute College, French found out two days later he'd made one of the Under Armour Baseball Factory National Tournament teams. He'll play Oct. 6-10 in the Arizona Fall Invitational in Peoria, Ariz., the shared spring training home of the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres.
"First of all, as you can imagine it was pretty amazing I made the team," said French, who said he was selected out of about 70 applicants at the Wisconsin tryout.
As these things do, it turned into a family affair.
"I got home (from school) and my mom (Mili) tells me to call my dad," Drew said. "And my dad (Bob) said, 'You want to go to Arizona? Because you made the national team.'
"I was like, what? That's kind of crazy."
Not too crazy considering French has been playing ball since he was 5, throws a two-seam fastball 86 miles an hour and not only plays third base and pitches for Kaneland, but also plays shortstop and pitches for the club Team Illinois Baseball.
French said the Under Armour people "really liked my lower body and my swing. They liked my arm strength and they liked my range and my ability to field. And they liked how I was pretty decently fast."
What's not to like? French also is a National Honor Society Student with a 5.0 grade point average, said Mili French. She added he's gotten straight A's since third grade.
Surely with those marks his teachers can excuse his absence next week. He hopes.
"I only have four classes a day and only three that I get homework in, so I think it'll be all right," he said. "My teachers are pretty cool, so I'm sure they'll understand."
A legacy continues
In his freshman football season at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., Aurora Christian graduate Dean Griffing has moved up the depth chart at defensive end from No. 5 to No. 2.
In addition to being on "just about every special team," he said gets in about 10 plays a game on the line.
He is just as enthusiastic about his studies... Then again, there was that tackle for loss on the last play of the Engineers' 41-17 win over Kalamazoo in the Sept. 18 home opener.
"It was pretty sweet, especially late in the game," said the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Griffing, who played offensive line for Aurora Christian's Class 4A state runner-up and set the Eagles' single-season sack record last year with 8.5.
Griffing is the product of an athletically gifted family.
His father, Chris, played football at Marmion also an Aurora Christian assistant, that makes things interesting for this Friday's Suburban Christian Conference game and played a year at Illinois Benedictine and a couple years of semipro ball with the DuPage Eagles.
Chris Griffing was also a diver three years at Benedictine and one year at Western Illinois. His wife, Nancy, was an All-American swimmer at Benedictine and the College of DuPage.
Dean's grandfather passed away when he was 6, so he never saw his grandson play football. With his background, however, grandpa would have approved.
Named Orrin but going by his middle name, also Dean, the elder Griffing was a center and linebacker at Kansas State in 1936.
Hired as coach of the Regina Roughriders later that year, according to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, the team's center got hurt, so Griffing played that as well. Known as "Bad Man" because he was a hard-hitter, he was a three-time all-star before moving to the Toronto franchise in 1943. He finished his playing career as player-coach-part owner of the Calgary Stampeders from 1945-47 and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
The Hall noted that after retiring as a player Griffing returned to manage Saskatchewan in the 1950s. That experience helped when he became the first general manager of the Denver Broncos, leading the charter American Football League franchise in 1960-61.
Chris Griffing said his father was also a special assignment scout for George Halas with the Bears, until the McCaskey regime let him go.
"Especially with grandpa, we've got a lot of football in our blood," said the Dean Griffing who may become a three-year starter at Rose-Hulman.
"It's a big family thing. There's definitely a sense of pride in that I continue as a Griffing and play college football."