Some of the best players in high school tennis converged on the northwest suburbs Friday afternoon as Day 1 of the prestigious Tom Pitchford 32 tennis invite got underway.
Top singles seed Jason Brown advanced into today's semifinals at host Hersey, but only after Stevenson's Jeremy Bush took 8 games from the Deerfield star in a 6-4, 6-4 match which was played at Prospect High School.
The Patriots will begin today's competition in third place with 28 points, 4 behind Hinsdale Central. The Red Devils are chasing tournament leader and reigning state champ New Trier.
The Trevians lead the 32-team field with 40 points overall, despite not having the top player singles player in the state, Jared Hiltzik, who is away for the weekend at a tournament in Wisconsin.
Play will continue today, weather permitting, at 8 a.m., and will continue through the early afternoon, when the finals at singles and doubles are schedule to take place at Hersey.
Watch the Hersey website for updates on scores and any schedule changes, should the weather turn south.
"Jeremy was up 3-1 in the first set to Brown and was hitting really well while making things tough for him, but (Brown) obviously is a very good player, and he fought back to finally this match away," said Stevenson assistant Jeff Zanchelli, who watched the junior win his first two matches of the day in straight sets to stay alive in the championship bracket.
Bush, who has missed a considerable amount of time this spring to what doctors diagnosed as a stress fracture in his back, opened his day with an easy victory over Rishi Chatterji of Barrington before ousting Neuqua Valley's Mike Baiochi 6-2, 6-0.
"I was basically shut down during the off-season and was actually in a back brace for four weeks while I recovered, and without any physical therapy during that time," said Bush. "But I am feeling really good right and feel like I am ready to have a strong finish to the regular season and right on through the state tournament, where I believe our team is capable of challenging for a team trophy."
Baiochi, who went 4-2 at the state tournament last season with doubles partner Patrick Carpio, sailed past Max Gordon of Highland Park before runing into Bush and getting sent into the backdraw today.
"I feel like I am nearly 100 percent after suffering an abdominal strain, and if I can stay healthy, my goal is to get to the state tournament once again and play as deep into the tournament as possible," said the Neuqua senior.
Gordon Zhang, a long-time rival and opponent of Baiochi, had his hands full with 3-4 seed Sam Bloom of Hinsdale Central in a third-round match that was suspended late Friday. And that was all after a match that lasted nearly 3 hours as Zhang defeated Jake Eliot of Lyons Township, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the second round.
"Jake is a great player and competitor, and someone I've been playing against since I was 8 years old," said the four-year star from Naperville North. "I think when it was 5-all in that third set, I could sense that was finally it for (him), but he played a great match today."
Zhang pulled even after trailing 5-4, then played 5 long deuce games before prevailing in his third set.
All around singles, the top seeds held firm. But many matches were left uncompleted as darkness fell.
Brown was the lone player at No. 1 to advance into the semis and will await the winner of the Joey Leto (Downers Grove South)-Peter Tarwid (Lake Forest).
On the bottom half of the bracket, No. 2 seed Aaron Hiltzik, after defeating Fremd senior Nick Makowiecki, is opposite four-time state qualifier Brad Holt of Homewood-Flossmoor.
At the doubles venue at Buffalo Grove, the biggest surprise of the tournament thus far came from unseeded Alton (Pat Spain-Pat Logan), who stunned 5-8 Oak Park-River Forest (Jeremy Dixon-Tim McAdam) in 3 sets, before knocking off 9-16 seed Metamora (Quinn Vaughgan-Christop Goettler), also in three sets.
Alton will meet 3-4 seed New Trier (Nate and Rob Jacobson) this morning.
The Trevians defeated the 9-16 team from Barrington (George Coll-Varun Parekh) in the second round 6-1, 6-1, after the Broncos duo won its opener over Homewood-Flossmoor.
"They just steamrolled us," said Parekh. "They played just perfect doubles against us, and we never were able to get untracked."
Carmel's No. 1 team of Bryan Hunt and Geoff Butler fell in their second-round match to Deerfield (Toby Ma-Tim Kasbeer). But Stevenson's top team of Colin Harvey-Andrew Komarov went 2-0 on the day, including a second consecutive victory over Glenbrook North's top tandem.
The Patriots (13-2) will continue today against 3-4 seed Downers Grove South (15-2), and the team of Connor Harmon and Cody Freischlag.