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updated: 9/18/2012 8:35 PM

St. Francis defeats Wheaton Academy

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By D.J. Wanberg
Daily Herald Correspondent

When two teams that are undefeated in conference play face off in a dual meet, it's never too early to start thinking about the overall league meet that starts the postseason.

St. Francis headed to Wheaton Academy in West Chicago on Tuesday afternoon with the Spartans and the Warriors both 4-0 in Suburban Christian Conference play.

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The Spartans prevailed 4-1 in a meet that included two three-set matches and a singles match that needed a second-set tiebreaker. What pleased St. Francis coach Marcia Bussey is that her team is winning the tight matches of late.

"We were at a quad Saturday and there were 10 tiebreakers and we won every tiebreaker," she said of the Raider Quad at Glenbard South, which the Spartans won. "Today, we won tiebreakers at second singles and first doubles. That's been key getting the close ones and that's what we work on."

First off the court were the No. 1 singles competitors. St. Francis' Claire Eckert prevailed over Wheaton Academy's Mackenzie Schiff 6-2, 6-3.

"We're proud of that accomplishment," Eckert said of her team's undefeated league mark. As for her game, "I just want to keep improving my serve, backstroke and groundstroke -- all together," she said.

St. Francis' second win came from the No. 3 doubles team of Genna Gruendeman and Kailey O'Conner, who beat the Warriors' Abby Gasick and Sarah Jagrowski 6-3, 6-3.

There's less than three weeks left until the Oct. 5-6 SCC meet, and while it was not the prevailing thought of players Tuesday, what this meet might mean later on in conference was in the back of their minds.

"It can give you an edge knowing that you can go up against them," O'Conner said.

The key to the duo's success so far this season is they don't try to overpower their opponents.

"We strategize. We find the weaknesses of the opponents and hit on those more," Gruendeman said.

Next came victories by Ava Kolman at No. 2 singles, a 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) win over Wheaton Academy's Kylie Hultgren and Rachel Krisco and Katie Schiewe getting the final St. Francis team point, beating Lizzy Larson and Maisie Howland, 1-6, 7-5 and 6-2 at No. 2 doubles.

As the sun was quickly setting, the Warriors' Lexi Welton and Betsy Jones put the finishing touches on a 6-4, 6-7 (7-3) and 6-0 victory over AnneMarie Jagielo and Alexis Langley.

"Going into the third set, we were pumped. We knew we could do good. We had confidence," Welton said.

Wheaton Academy coach Matt Hockett said Tuesday was a valuable learning experience.

"We met a good team today and St. Francis finished (matches) better than we did,' he said. "We lost today, but we got an idea of what we can do to win at conference."

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