Neuqua Valley's newly formed first-doubles tennis team has hit the ground running -- and it's helped that the new partnership is made up of a pair of seniors who both are former state qualifiers.
On Tuesday the Wildcats Andi Kosova and Nick Anderson kicked off their final season with a 6-0, 6-1 win at first doubles to lead Neuqua Valley to a 6-1 victory over visiting St. Charles North.
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While they've never been regular partners in high school tennis, the two are old friends and they both come with great credentials as high school doubles players.
"We have good communication," Kosova said, "and we have similar playing styles, so the transition has been easy."
Kosova qualified for the state tournament last year with doubles partner Jack Warning, who moved into the Wildcats' No. 1 singles spot.
So along came Anderson, a state-doubles qualifier as a sophomore with then-senior Taylor Wall.
"I took a year off from high school tennis last year," Anderson said. "But I wanted to come back and make my senior year special. Andi and I work well together and we've got our eyes on sectionals and state."
According to Kosova, the new team is a little different from his pairing with Warning.
"I'm hitting with more power this year," Kosova said. "Jack and I just played hard, solid tennis. Nick and I are playing with a little more spin and touch. Also, Nick is left-handed and I'm right-handed, and that messes with opponents a little."
"I love the lefty-righty combination," said Neuqua Valley coach Trudy Bennorth. "I'm thrilled with the way they played today. They're both tough at the net, hard to pass against, and they both have good hands and great reactions. They're good friends on and off the court, so they have good chemistry, as well."
St. Charles North's only victory of the day came at first singles, where senior qualifier Dom Amalraj beat Warning in a three-setter 7-6, 7-9, 6-0.
"Dom really picked up his game this year," said North Stars coach Sean Masoncup. "He could be one of the best players in Illinois. I'm proud how we competed today, especially in the cold weather. We were without four starters, but it's great to get a meet in against Neuqua, which is always the measuring stick in our conference. We knew this would be a rebuilding year, so we got to see a lot of our younger guys play."