This time there wouldn't be any dramatic endings at the Mid-Suburban League boys tennis championships.
After keeping fans glued to the courts to watch to see if it was Fremd or Barrington the past two seasons, Saturday afternoon it was all Fremd down the stretch.
The Vikings, led by senior Matt Burkhardt, swept all three flights at singles, then captured titles at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles to outscore their division rival Broncos 58-48 and hoist the tournament trophy on a cold and breezy day at Buffalo Grove.
Burkhardt, Nick Makowiecki and Maciej Niemcyzk, who were perfect all throughout the regular season, stayed that way over the three days of play to carry off their individual titles. They erased any hope for the Broncos, who were down just 40-34 before the Fremd trio went on and at the same time the temperature dropped even lower, to guarantee this day to be one of the worst for tennis this spring.
After the Broncos, MSL East runner-up Rolling Meadows was third overall with 30 points, 2 more than Conant, and 3 over both Buffalo Grove and Prospect, which each tallied 27 points.
"I was very fortunate to come into such a terrific situation, with a solid, talented lineup already in place, and a bunch of great kids, and to beat a program such as Barrington, who has a great coach like John (Roncone) really made for a memorable first year for me," said Vikings head coach Matt Duncan.
Now Duncan will turn his attention to prepping his lads for the Stevenson sectionals next weekend, where Burkhardt (23-5) hopes to earn the No. 2 seed behind Stevenson's Jeremy Bush. Makowiecki and Niemcyzk get back together as his No. 1 doubles team and look for a spot behind David Packowitz-Ross Putterman (Stevenson), who are currently No. 1 in the state.
"(Fremd) just had too much firepower at singles for us to truly challenge them today," Roncone said, "but for a little while, it looked like a couple of victories here and there might make it interesting, until Matt's kids at singles went to work."
After nearly a five-hour wait to play in his championship match with Schaumburg's Isriz Balase (25-7), the four-year veteran Burkhardt (24-5) would validate his No. 1 seed with a 6-4, 6-4 win to earn his first conference title.
"It's been a long journey (until) today to win the title at No. 1 singles, and against a very good opponent in Balase," said Burkhardt.
The Washington University (St. Louis) bound Burkhardt started fast, and built a 3-0 lead, before the two-time state qualifier fought back to make things interesting.
"I didn't start as well as I would have liked to, but my confidence never let down at any time during the match, it's just that Matt hit the shots that he needed to, and when he needed to," said Balase, who will battle with the likes of Michael Sellitto and Sam Hoogland (Glenbrook South), Brian Levitas (Glenbrook North) and Barrington's Varun Parekh next weekend at the Schaumburg sectional.
"There's a reason that Matt went 5-0 in the MSL during the regular season, and 3-0 here this weekend," began Schaumburg coach Jason Campbell.
"He worked very hard on his game during the offseason, and he can hit the big shot when he has to, and on this day, he deserved to win and be our MSL champion at No. 1 singles."
Both Makowiecki and Niemcyzk each cruised to their titles on Saturday. Makowiecki, a junior, defeated a very good player from Rolling Meadows in Attilio Bonasera 6-2, 6-1 at No. 2. Niemczyk needed little time to upend Rishi Chatterji of Barrington 6-1, 6-1 at No. 3.
"Obviously it's great to win the championship, and help our team, but I am very excited about getting back together with Nick for next weekend, and to qualify for the state tournament in doubles," said Niemczyk, a sophomore, who last season was the Vikings No. 1.
The Vikings depth at doubles showed through brightly when Jamie Yang-Matt Buesing (14-0) completed a wonderful season at No. 2 after the duo earned its first-place medal over Barrington's Ben Adams-Greg Baker 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3.
At about the same time, and on the adjacent court, their mates at No. 3 doubles, Eric Pohl-Sudheer Vundru (15-0) outlasted another Barrington club (Akush Khurana-John Riter) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Khurana and Riter upset No. 1 seeded Rolling Meadows' Eric Iverson and Marvin Lopez 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals to advance into the finals.
The Broncos' were able to get themselves a pair of championship belts on this long day of tennis. The first came in less than 55 minutes against the No. 3-4 seed Conant (Eugene and Peter Itskovich) when the No. 1 team of Ben Nuckles-George Coll defeated the Cougars' duo 6-1, 6-4.
"I texted George before we left for the tournament on Thursday that our goal should be that we lose only 4 games this weekend, and if I didn't mess up in our second set with Conant, we could have accomplished that goal," said Nuckles, who along with Coll now set their sights on a top seed at the Schaumburg sectional over the high profile clubs from Glenbrook North and South.
"Up until my total breakdown at the end, we were in total control of that match, and playing doubles the way we know how to do," added the senior.
The Broncos' No. 1 team is now 15-8 on the year.
Just a few days after being put together as the Broncos No. 4 team, Mike Lilien and Matt Swire celebrated by defeating Kevin Piotrowski-Andre Vlasov of Fremd 6-3, 6-1 in the final.
Hersey's top team of Jake Wendell-Robin Shin may have given themselves a better chance of a higher seed at the Stevenson sectional. The unseeded pair upset No. 2 Prospect's Matt Wederich-Matt Hamman in the quarterfinals 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 before dropping a 6-4, 6-4 match to Conant in the next round.
The same thing goes for Prospect freshman Carson Burke (13-14) after his 6-2, 6-2 win over Takuma Ito (Conant) in his quarterfinal match, and eventual third-place finish overall, after Barrington's Parekh had to withdraw due to an ankle injury.
"Carson had a very good tournament, and with his continued commitment to improve, he has a nice high school career ahead of him," said Prospect coach Rick Huffman.
The host Bison received third-place finishes at Nos. 2 and 3 singles from Max Beylis and freshmen Peter Georgiades. Beylis will be paired with No. 1 (Ari Kazan) next weekend, where head coach Kevin Schrammel hopes to see his top team earn a 3-4 seed at Stevenson.