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updated: 9/17/2012 9:18 PM

Benet's Comerford hits milestone

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  • WW South junior Keisha Clousing is mixing a USTA tournament schedule with her high school schedule.

      WW South junior Keisha Clousing is mixing a USTA tournament schedule with her high school schedule.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

By Neil Shalin
Daily Herald Correspondent

For the Benet girls tennis team it was a 5-0 victory to maintain its undefeated record and move it to 10-0 for the season.

For Redwings coach Bob Comerford, the win over St. Viator last Saturday marked the 700th of his high school coaching career.

The number of victories puts Comerford, who coached at Hinsdale South boys and girls for 33 years before moving to Benet in 2006, in rare company among high school coaches in the state of Illinois.

"My dad told me that if you stick around long enough good things will happen," Comerford said. "I've been fortunate to have worked at two outstanding schools, been supported by great administrations and coached some wonderful kids."

Comerford-coached teams have won numerous conference championships, his Benet team has won the sectional title four times since he arrived on the scene in 2006 and he has sent more than 100 players to the state tournament.

Both Hinsdale South and Benet have finished in the top six at state during Comerford's tenure.

"The big change in high school tennis over the years is that so many of the kids are playing all year around," Comerford said. "That has taken the competition to a higher level. I'm amazed at how our kids can balance tennis, academics and other activities. And the serious commitment their parents have to make to support these activities. That sacrifice is unreal."

Comerford's career coaching record is 700-173. The Redwings' last loss in a dual meet was to state champion Hinsdale Central last year.

A busy girl:

Keisha Clousing of Wheaton Warrenville South, who finished second at state as a freshman and fourth last year as a sophomore, has a lot on her plate this year.

In addition to leading the Tigers varsity from her No. 1 singles slot, Clousing has a full schedule of USTA tournaments this year, and after turning 17 she moved up to the under-18 division. She now is competing for world points in international competition.

In her final year in the under-16s, Clousing was ranked 11th in the country, but now in the more advanced division she has to battle to build up her points in higher-profile tournaments.

"I still love being with my high school teammates and playing varsity tennis," Clousing said. "But the heavy schedule has cut down on the time I have to practice with my team."

Keisha's mom and Tigers coach Patti Clousing is impressed by her daughter's commitment to playing at the higher level.

"What's cool is that girls at this age can start to burn out on tennis," Patti said. "But Keisha is more excited and falling more in love with the sport. That's why she has improved so much."

Coach Clousing said Keisha has developed more of an attacking style and that she's added more power to her game.

"She's also added speed and strength through speed and weight training," Patti said. "She stands just under 6-feet tall and she's added 10 pounds of muscle. As a junior, she's now starting the college recruitment process. She'll start to play in more international events when the high school season is over. Her goal is to qualify next year for the Junior U.S. Open in New York."

And for relaxation Keisha has also taken up playing the drums.

"I like music," she said. "I used to play the guitar, but I'm really getting to love the drums. With tennis, college visits, schoolwork and drums, I'm taking it all in right now. I'm just relaxing and keeping everything organized."

Better late than never:

The Waubonsie Valley Warriors may have arrived a year late in starting to realize their outstanding potential, but that's OK with coach Phil Galow.

"We're putting together a pretty decent season," Galow said. "Because the girls put in the work in the off-season and came in ready to go this year. That wasn't the case last year. They're starting to see the fruits of their labor."

The Warriors, 9-3 thus far, won the Rosary Invitational at Oswego last week, winning 17 of 18 matches, including a sweep of the singles championships by seniors Katie Drone, Nadia Gonzalez and Nithya Sridhar.

"Nithya is more mature and playing with more patience," Galow said. "Nadia is starting to show consistency and is getting adept at constructing points. And Katie is still our hardest worker and our most coachable player. She's learning the game every day, she's eager to learn and she's playing within herself."

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