It seemed like an eternity for John Roncone, but his tennis team from Barrington is back on top for the first time since 2010.
The Broncos lifted the Mid-Suburban League championship trophy on a cold, windy Saturday afternoon at host Wheeling thanks to supremacy at doubles and steady work at singles, particularly from No. 3 champ Zach Hennenfent.
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Barrington outscored Fremd by 14 points, 61-47. Prospect took third with 34.
With the tournament win and MSL West title, the Broncos were a clear-cut overall league champion.
"Fremd has ruled the conference the last couple of years, but it was our depth of talent which helped us finally earn the championship," said Roncone, whose team will enjoy its victory for another day or two before turning its focus to the upcoming Stevenson sectional. "Conditions were not very desirable for tennis today, but we received tremendous efforts from our guys at doubles as well as Zach, in addition to important points from (team captain Varun Parekh). And that's how you win a conference title."
While Hennefent was defeating Parth Sisodiya of Conant 6-1, 6-0, and his teammates at Nos. 2, 3 and 4 doubles were doing likewise at other venues, there was plenty of intrigue back on the courts at Wheeling.
The top player in the MSL and one of the best in the area, sophomore Vincent Lin (Schaumburg), wasn't present for his 8 a.m. first-rounder, throwing the top of the No. 1 singles bracket up for grabs.
No. 4 seed Carson Burke, who would have met Lin in the quarterfinals, took full advantage of the absence, and the Prospect junior defeated No. 5 Maciej Niemcyzk (Fremd) in three sets before topping Jayaram Yuleri of Wheeling to reach the finals against freshman standout Mack Galvin (28-5) of Rolling Meadows.
Galvin needed little time to give the MSL East champs their lone title of the day.
"It feels great to be the singles champion in my first year," said Galvin with a big smile. "I was looking forward to playing Vincent today, especially after we went to a third-set (tie-breaker) in our first meeting, but Carson is a very good player also, so it was a good match for both of us."
Galvin pounded away at Burke's backhand, and with a variety of shots moved around the 2012 state qualifier in a 6-3, 6-2 decision.
"Mack played well today," Burke said. "He managed the wind better than I was able to, and after playing a pretty good first set, he kind of took over after that."
"Carson has come a long way this season after a slow start," said Prospect coach Rick Huffman. "Both he (and) our No. 2 (Ben Fisch) should have a very good chance of getting out of our sectional next weekend," said Knights coach Rick Huffman.
Fisch retired after dropping his first set to Sudheer Vundru of Fremd in the finals at Buffalo Grove.
Vundru, who was a 2012 state qualifier along with Eric Pohl at doubles, was on hand to watch Pohl capture a third consecutive MSL crown as he and Jinwoo Oak roared back from seeming certain defeat to upend top seed Ben Adams/Will Herzog of Barrington a marathon match 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
"This is the third straight year that I've been part of the last match of the tournament," said an exhausted Pohl, who won No. 2 singles last season.
At first the Vikings had few answers for Adams and Herzog, and were in serious trouble in the second-set tiebreaker, trailing 5-1, before the duo reeled off 6 straight points to pull even at one set apiece.
"We took the momentum right away from them when we won that tie-breaker, and it just carried on through in the third set," Pohl said. "And what makes me even happier is that Jinwoo wins his first MSL title in his senior year."
With sectional seed implications riding high, the Buffalo Grove team of Peter Georgiades-Anton Levitin beat Brandon Stassen-Owen Connor of Hersey in straight sets (6-3, 6-4) to claim third-place honors. BG and Hersey will both be at the Highland Park sectional next weekend, along with Prospect.
Hersey's two-plus hour three-set victory over Takayuki Higuchi/Dillon Early of Schaumburg in the quarterfinals helped the Huskies advance deeper into the championship bracket and gave the pair the opportunity to earn a key victory.
"We left a lot of points out there against Schaumburg, but it gave us a big boost in confidence, and will really help us next week," said Stassen.
The Bison also increased their sectional odds following an intense victory over No. 3 seed Sam Tambeaux/Ralph Tenuta of Prospect in an early morning match. The Knights later netted a fifth-place medal.
Barrington's dominance at doubles was evident in straight-set victories from Akash Khurana/HB Thompson at No. 2, Erik Barns/Joe Schmidt at No. 3 and Matt Mulligan/Scott Apmann at No. 4.
"Getting three victories over teams from Fremd in the finals at doubles really helped us put some distance between them and the rest of the field today," said Roncone.
Conant and Rolling Meadows tied for fourth place with 31 points each, while Buffalo Grove (25) earned a sixth-place finish.