Stevenson junior Jeremy Bush believed his eyes when he called a ball out at the baseline in a singles semifinal at Saturday's boys state tennis meet at Hersey.
But he couldn't believe his ears shortly thereafter.
The chair umpire overruled Bush's call and awarded the point to Marian Catholic senior Julian Childers. It was a reversal of the unfortunate variety for the Patriot. Had Bush's judgment stood, he would have tied the first-set tiebreaker at 6-6. Childers got the point instead and won the set, before advancing to the singles final with 7-6 (5), 6-1 decision.
Bush, standing at the baseline after the overruling, looked at the umpire and pleaded his case. He looked incredulous, not angry.
"Knowing Jeremy, I'm confident he saw where that ball landed and made a good call," said Stevenson assistant coach Mark Linnenberger. "Playing a player like Julian is tough. Trying to overcome (the overruling) is also tough. But that call wasn't the reason he lost. Julian beat Jeremy fair and square."
Bush played brilliantly while winning the first three games of the semifinal. He struck crisp shots from the baseline and finished points quickly at the net. Childers answered with a 3-0 run but fell behind 5-4 and 6-5. The heavy hitter from the Chicago Heights school saved a match-point-against while serving at 4-5.
Only 30 minutes after the loss, Bush responded impressively when he hit the court against Hinsdale Central freshman Martin Joyce in the match for third place. Joyce has a serve that might be outlawed in several states by the time he becomes a junior.
"His serves -- huge," Bush would say after his 6-2, 7-6 (3) victory against the Red Devil. "They're huge. I can't imagine what it would feel like to get hit by one of them."
Bush let his racket get in the way of Joyce's blurry deliveries. The rest of Bush's game -- quickness, well-placed shots, all-court savvy -- took care of business from there.
"Jeremy's ability to neutralize Joyce's serves got him through that match," said Patriots assistant coach Jeff Zanchelli. "Jeremy was also more consistent than Martin was."
Bush (26-6), as a 5-8 seed, became only the fourth Patriot to earn a top-four medal in singles at state. Blake Bazarnik did it three times, taking fifth in 2007, first in '09 and fourth in '10; Karl Sloss topped the singles field in '98 after a third-place showing in '97; and David Keevins finished fourth in '83.
Stevenson finished fourth (27 points) at state on Saturday, 3 points behind third-place Lake Forest. Hinsdale Central (50) and New Trier (36) went 1-2.
"We snuck up on people this year," said Pats head coach Tom Stanhope. "We won't be able to do that next year, no way. Our depth was apparent and we got some great seasons from quite a few underclassmen."
Two of them, sophomore Andrew Komarov and freshman Colin Harvey, finished seventh-eighth in doubles at state. Seeded 9-16, they beat Alton's Patrick Spain/Patrick Logan 6-2, 6-4 in consolation quarterfinal Saturday at Buffalo Grove before falling 6-4, 7-5 to second-seeded Zacko Brint/Danny Wynbrandt of Highland Park -- their second loss to the pair of Giants in as many days.
"Our guys played well," said Stanhope. "But HP's seniors won too many of the big points."
Another Patriots freshman, Adam Maryniuk, and senior Dennis Kontorovich teamed up in doubles to reach the third round of the front draw.
Warren junior Kristiyan Trukov went 6-2 at the three-day tournament and finished ninth-12th in singles. The Blue Devil lost 7-5, 6-4 to Hinsdale Central Red Devil Sam Bloom in an all-pitchfork consolation quarterfinal Saturday at Buffalo Grove.
Deerfield senior Jason Brown (38-4) downed Childers 6-1, 6-2 in the final to become only the second Warrior in program history to capture a state singles championship. Former Deerfield star Mike Morrison won four straight singles championships from 1983-86. The Hinsdale Central tandem of Alex Hagermoser/Peter Heneghan edged top-seeded Michael Sellito/Michael Levin of Glenbrook South 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) for the doubles title on Saturday.