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updated: 9/30/2012 12:09 AM

Oken, Maxson lead Naperville North to tourney title

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By Neil Shalin
Daily Herald Correspondent

It's always good to take home a tournament championship, but for the Naperville North girls tennis team, winning its own invitational Saturday couldn't have come at a better time.

"We just came off our only conference loss Thursday to Naperville Central," said Huskies coach Heather Henricksen. "A win like this can build confidence in the program going into the conference tournament."

In amassing the 30 points needed to win the tournament, the Huskies got championship performances from Kayla Maxson and Tiffany Oken at second doubles, Julia Li and Karen Liu at third doubles and Madhura Patil at third singles.

"I'm proud of how our girls performed today," Henricksen said. "I believe in this team and they're starting to buy in to how good they are. They're smart, they execute and they buy into what I want them to do."

Maxson and Oken were nearly perfect in their 6-0, 6-0 victory in the finals.

"Our semifinal match was not so good," Oken said. "But in the finals we played our game. We were coming to the net and being aggressive. This really helps get our confidence up."

"We feed off each other's energy," Maxson said about the doubles partnership that has been going on for more than three years.

Li and Liu went into their finals match after more than a two-hour wait, while their eventual opponents battled through a long and arduous semifinal.

"It's hard to adjust to playing again after you've been sitting around for so long," Li said. "We tried to put the time to good use by scouting the St. Ignatius doubles team. From watching them we decided to go to the net more because they had pretty good groundstrokes. And that worked for us."

"We also walked around and stretched a lot," Liu said. "So we were able to come out strong in the finals. Our strokes were on and our volleys were aggressive."

Henricksen is thrilled with the development of Patil this season, her first on varsity.

"She's a sophomore and has made a lot of adjustments in her game in a short period of time," Henricksen said. "She's developed patience, consistency and she now trusts that she can finish points. She's also a student of the game who is proving to be one of our best players.'

Lyons Twp. finished second with 28 points, and St. Ignatius was third with 27. They were followed by Naperville Central, Neuqua Valley, Downers Grove South, Hinsdale South and Crystal Lake Central.

Naperville Central's sensational freshman Tiffany Chen, who has only two losses this year, won 6-0, 6-0 at first singles.

"Tiffany has solid strokes and she's consistent," said Naperville Central coach Don Bonet. "She's strong mentally and she doesn't get rattled."

Neuqua Valley's Jen Cha was the winner at second singles.

"Jen is very competitive," said Neuqua Valley coach Trudy Bennorth. "She ran after every ball and put it away when she needed to."

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