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updated: 10/23/2011 1:07 AM

Stevenson takes third, as does doubles tandem

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  • Stevenson's Alexxis Kiven returns a ball at the net during doubles play with partner Kendall Kirsch during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal against Hinsdale Central.

       Stevenson's Alexxis Kiven returns a ball at the net during doubles play with partner Kendall Kirsch during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal against Hinsdale Central.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson doubles player Alexxis Kiven returns a ball at the net during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal against Hinsdale Central.

       Stevenson doubles player Alexxis Kiven returns a ball at the net during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal against Hinsdale Central.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson doubles player Kendall Kirsch pauses after losing a point to Hinsdale Central during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal.

       Stevenson doubles player Kendall Kirsch pauses after losing a point to Hinsdale Central during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's Alexxis Kiven returns a serve during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal against Hinsdale Central.

       Stevenson's Alexxis Kiven returns a serve during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal against Hinsdale Central.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson doubles players Kendall Kirsch, left, and Alexxis Kiven congratulate one another after earning a point against Hinsdale Central during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal.

       Stevenson doubles players Kendall Kirsch, left, and Alexxis Kiven congratulate one another after earning a point against Hinsdale Central during Saturday's girls state tennis semifinal.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent

Stevenson girls tennis coach Tom Stanhope stood in the lobby of Prospect's field house on Saturday afternoon, discussing his Patriots' state-meet performances.

And looking back ... at his prep days.

Stanhope, a 1997 Prospect graduate, served and poached as a No. 1 doubles player back in his days as a Knight.

Photos of past varsity squads, in all sports, lined the lobby's walls.

Stanhope is smiling in one of the pictures, sporting a buzz cut.

"Look at that one," he said, pointing up to another framed shot. "I'm right there, the guy in the first row, far right. Like my bowl haircut?"

Early in the fall of Stanhope's senior year at Prospect, Stevenson's '96 girls tennis team, coached by Dave Wilms and led by singles star Michelle Dasso, finished runner-up at state.

A Patriots team wouldn't net another girls state tennis trophy until ... Saturday.

Stanhope's young and talent-drenched 2011 state crew -- four freshmen and two sophomores -- amassed 21 points to finish third behind New Trier (28) and champ Hinsdale Central (39).

Deerfield, in fourth place, tallied 18 points.

"Hinsdale Central, New Trier ... pretty good company," Stanhope said. "All season long, we said, 'Why not us?'

"I'm proud, incredibly proud, of the way our girls -- all of them -- geared up for some big wins."

The biggest: sophomore Alexxis Kiven/freshman Kendall Kirsch's 6-2, 7-6 (7) defeat of Whitney Young's Natalie Whalen/Kendall Scruggs in a doubles quarterfinal Saturday morning at Stanhope's alma mater.

It clinched hardware for the Patriots.

Kiven, near a baseline, showed goalkeeper-quick hands at 7-7 of the second-set tiebreaker, deftly getting a racket on a pair of Whitney Young overhead smashes to extend the crucial point.

Kiven/Kirsch, seeded 3-4, earned the point and won the next one to secure a semifinal berth.

"We wanted to get to the net, a lot, and play aggressive tennis all day," said Kiven, after she and her spirited partner placed a program-best third place in doubles with a 7-6 (6), 6-2 win over Decatur St. Teresa's Tracey Kuhle/Amy Kuhle.

"I still feel energetic," Kirsch added after the tandem's third match Saturday. "But in about 20 minutes, I'll probably be down, out."

Kiven/Kirsch's lone loss of the weekend was to eventual champs Marika Cusick/Caroline Lorenzini, of Hinsdale Central, in a 6-3, 6-3 semifinal late Saturday morning.

Stevenson's other state doubles entrant, sophomore Danielle Vasiliev/freshman Michelle Tulchinskaya, went 3-1 at state, good for six team points. Pats freshman singles qualifiers Kaylin Dong and Zoe Manion each won a first-round match (2 points for each victory) on Thursday.

"State ... it's a three-day grind," said Stanhope. "This tournament tests you, physically and mentally. Our girls had to step up in big matches, and they did."

A couple of other girls from Lake County, Grayslake North senior Kelly Poggensee-Wei and Mundelein junior Ari Dechter, faced each other in a consolation-round semifinal Saturday after both lost in the quarterfinals.

Poggensee-Wei, a top-eight player at state a year ago and the best Knight in program history, defeated Dechter 6-4, 6-2 and played for fifth place against junior Alexis Casati, a 3-4 seed from Deerfield.

Casati, undefeated this fall until a state quarterfinal loss, edged 5-8 seed Poggensee-Wei 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in match that featured lengthy points and superb shot-making.

"Kelly did great, gave it her all," said Grayslake North coach Jill Tomasello. "We're very excited for her. She (matched) her seed; that's what she wanted to do, at least.

"Kelly," she added, "has such a great personality, and she was a leader for us. It was a lot of fun to be around her."

Poggensee-Wei's older sister, Lynne, graduated in 2007 as the best girls tennis player in another school's history: Grayslake Central's. Lynne Poggensee-Wei, now a civil engineer living in Texas, finished fourth in singles at state twice (2004, '06) and seventh in '03.

Dechter, fourth at state last fall, ended up 7th-8th on Saturday.

She bowed 6-1, 6-0 to top-seeded Keisha Clousing, of Wheaton Warrenville South, in a quarterfinal.

The classy Mustang, in a throwback move, ran to the net to shake the victor's hand.

Most vanquished competitors trudge for the post-match handshake.

"Keisha is an unbelievable player, a great player," said Mundelein first-year coach Brian Packowitz. "I'd never seen her play, until today. She's awesome and, my goodness, so aggressive.

"It was a competitive match, with a lot of deuces," he added. "Ari did all she could to try to take control. Against a talented player like Keisha, the last thing you want to do is rely on her to make unforced errors."

Morgan Park Academy's Jerricka Boone, the 2009 state singles champ, topped Lyons' Alex Chatt 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in Saturday's singles final.

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