By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Boys tennis / Scouting conference meets
Tourney host: Barrington
When: Thursday through Saturday
Venues: Palatine (No. 1 singles-doubles, No. 4 doubles, Saturday finals); Fremd (No. 2 singles-doubles); Rolling Meadows (No. 3 singles, doubles, No. 4 doubles).
Defending champion: Fremd.
Top seeds: No. 1 singles -- Vincent Lin (Schaumburg, 14-0), Nick Makowiecki (Fremd), Peter Itskovich (Conant), Carson Burke (Prospect); No. 1 doubles -- Barrington (Varun Parekh-George Coll), Buffalo Grove (Vlad Zupperman-Ari Kazan), Conant (Connor Sacks-Spencer Fang), Fremd (Matt Buesing-Mike Artov).
Outlook: Buffalo Grove and Fremd lifted division title trophies when all was said and done, but only Kevin Schrammel's Bison went through the season undefeated, thanks in part to a 4-3 victory over the reigning champs. "Fremd is still a very good team, but I think that if we hold our seeds, and get a little help here and there, we can challenge for the tournament title in the end," said Schrammel, who has now captured two straight MSL East titles. The Bison received a significant boost all season from its top two doubles teams, including No. 2 (Steve Mazzoni-Nick Boustead, 14-6), who received the top seed at this flight, while getting some good work from a rookie at No. 1 (Anton Levitin, 12-9), who looks to squeeze his way into the mix from his 5-6 seed. Mazzoni-Boustead earned a slight edge over the field after its regular-season victory over Fremd, which in turn beat Barrington. "The guys have worked very hard this season, and all of them have gotten themselves some quality wins, but they know they have to play their best in order to be there at the end," said Schrammel.
At Fremd, coach Matt Duncan is feeling very good about his chances of a repeat after watching his team of singles players, Nick Makowiecki (18-5), Maciej Niemcyzk (20-2) and Eric Pohl (17-2), all grab the top seeds at Nos. 1-3 respectively. "Those guys have been together nearly the entire year, as has our doubles teams, and I really feel that's been a benefit to us (thus) far, and should be this weekend and beyond," said Duncan. Makowiecki is in line to face the No. 3 seed (Itskovich, 13-7) then the top-seeded freshman Lin in the final. "My one-dubs team (Matt Buesing-Mike Artov, 15-9) had their best effort of the season at the 32 against the No. 1 team from Hinsdale Central (3-set loss) so it looks like they are coming around," Duncan said, "and my No. 3 and No. 4 teams are finally starting to jell as well, so we feel that we have the talent, and ability to win this thing, but we still have to go out and play, right from the very start."
A key head-to-head match with Barrington, which is always a threat come tournament time, could come in the semifinals when the Vikings' top doubles team meets the No. 1 Broncos (Parekh-Coll), who have played some of the best of the best this spring at the Benet and Jay Kramer Invites, in addtion to the 32, where they earned a 9-16 seed.
East Suburban Catholic Conference
Tourney host: Marist
When: Noon Thursday, 9 a.m. Saturday
Outlook: The only sure thing here is Marian Catholic star Julian Childers will win his fourth straigtht singles title, after that, it's anybody's guess. Childers would scorch the competition last spring, and his mates over at doubles, Mitch Zavesky-Kyle Scheffers, captured the title at No. 1 to help the Spartans edge past Benet to win the overall crown. This trio is back, but the Redwings, who won the regular-season championship, and Carmel will have a lot to say about the eventual outcome on Saturday. "It's going to be a real race between us, Marian and Carmel, it will likely be as tight as last season," said Benet coach Michael Hand after his team defeated Carmel 3-2 to finish 8-0 in the league. Benet will lean on its doubles teams, which went a combined 51-13 to fend off the opposition, and pick up valuable points during the two days of competiton. Bobby Martin-Matthew Rurka (23-8) lead the way at No. 1, with Grant Gatto-Matthew Garvin (20-2) right there at No. 2.
Carmel is led by a terrific pair at No. 1 in Geoff Butler-Bryan Hunt, who recently lost a three-set marathon to Martin-Rurka, but is quite capable of running the table in what promises to be a very competitive, and entertaining group at No. 1. Not to be forgotten is the St. Viator pair of Joe Nowakowski-Dan DeSio (15-4), whose only losses are to Marian, Carmel, Benet (7-5, 6-4) and Stevenson's No. 1 (Colin Harvey-Andrew Komarov), who might be headed toward a 5-8 seed at the state tournament. "The key is that Joe and Dan are getting better with each match, but they haven't reached their ceiling yet. If they continue to improve, and put it all together, I really believe they can compete for a top-three finish at conference," said Lions first-year head coach Joe Lascon.