Scouting conference tennis meets
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Tourney host: Wheeling
Venues: Wheeling (Nos. 1 singles and doubles); Buffalo Grove (No. singles, Nos. 2 and 4 doubles); Hersey (No. 3, singles and doubles)
Finals: at Wheeling, noon Saturday
No. 1 singles: Vincent Lin (Schaumburg), Mack Galvin (Rolling Meadows), Varun Parekh (Barrington), Carson Burke (Prospect).
No. 1 doubles: Barrington (Ben Adams/Will Herzog), Fremd (Eric Pohl/Jinwoo Oak), Prospect (Sam Tambeaux/Nick Tenuta), Hersey (Brandon Stassen/Owen Connor)
In a crowded field at No. 1 singles, Varun Parekh won't be the favorite, but the four-veteran at Barrington will still be the key figure for his club, which enters the conference tournament as the team to beat. After fueling a strong Broncos effort on Monday to defeat reigning MSL champ Fremd (6-1), the Washington University-bound Parekh added another big win against the rival Vikings to go along with an impressive resume he's been building ever since stepping into the starting lineup for coach John Roncone.
"With each year, Varun has become more and more of a leader, something we all expected and wanted for him, and we're so happy that he came back to win his match on Monday to help get his team going and to give us a division title once more," said Roncone.
Both Roncone and his standout player remember how, as a freshman, Parekh won a marathon match to help break a 3-3 tie with Fremd to give the Broncos the division crown.
"It's all kind of surreal to think that I am just about done playing here at Barrington, and leaving behind the friends that I have here," said Parekh, who has been accepted into Wash U's prestigious Owens Business School and will continue to play tennis. "But it has been a lot of fun, and a very satisfying career for me in these four years." The Broncos Student Council President is ranked in the upper 6 percent of a senior class of 740 students.
Without high expectations, Parekh advanced into his first state tournament in his freshman season. Roncone later paired Parekh with George Coll as the No. 1 doubles team, and it proved to be the perfect move. The dynamic duo captured MSL and sectional titles, earning them a 9-16 seed at state where they went 3-2.
"We lost our last two matches to New Trier and Bloomington, both matches we felt we could have won," said Parekh, "but nonetheless, I am sure George would agree we played great all tournament long."
As Parekh visits some of the big tournaments for the last time, Hinsdale Central, and the 32, to mention a few, he sees both the past and the future pass right before his eyes.
"I've played against eventual state champions in my career, Blake Bazarnik (Stevenson) and Robert Stineman (New Trier). And this season, it's young guys who will be great, too, like Vincent (Lin) over at Schaumburg, and it's all kind of nostalgic for me.
"I don't know how this week or next will go. Our sectional is so tough, especially at singles. But it's been great here, and I am really enjoying the role of leadership on this team during my senior year."
East Suburban Catholic Conference
Tourney host: Marian Catholic
When: Thursday (noon); Saturday (9 a.m.)
The lowdown: When Carmel edged Benet 3-2 on Monday, it gave the Corsairs the regular season ESCC title and the upper hand against the rest of the league heading into this weekend's conference tournament in Chicago Heights. The Corsairs' 1-2 punch at singles, Kevin Hunt (15-4) and Brandon Dechter (19-3), led the way against Benet, and the duo will be considered the favorites this weekend when Nancy Fehn's club looks to capture its first title since sharing the 2010 crown.
"Carmel looks like the class of our conference this season," said St. Viator coach Joe Lascon. "Our best chance for a top-four finish looks like Jacob Nottolli (No. 2 singles), whose only loss in conference is to Carmel and Benet. The guys continue to work hard, and although we have just two returning starters from last year (Ryan Abuel and Sean Cooney) they each have done a terrific job for us."
-- Mike Garofola