Boys tennis sectional preview / Northwest and Lake
The objective of the top teams around the state will be to send all four teams into the state tournament next weekend for the best chance of challenging Hinsdale Central for top team honors.
Based on results at the Pitchford 32 and other major tournaments leading up to this weekend, Stevenson, Lake Forest and New Trier will offer the greatest resistence to the Red Devils hope of lifting another championship trophy.
Both Lake Forest and New Trier should have no trouble sending everyone through this weekend's sectional meets, but the reigning North Suburban Conference champion Patriots find themselves in a highly competitive sectional on their home courts and will need come out firing right from the start.
Here's a brief look at the four venues where most teams from the area will be competing:
at Glenbrook North
When: Friday at 1:30 p.m.; Saturday at 9 a.m.
Who to watch: Singles: Vincent Lin (Schaumburg, 10-0), Mack Galvin (Rolling Meadows, 28-5), Will Sauser (Glenbrook North, 15-13), Brian Eirinberg (Glenbrook North, 19-9), Kiran Devaraj (Fremd, 9-2) Roland Gan (Glenbrook South). Doubles: Glenbrook North (Miguel Perez-David Zakhodin, 19-5), Conant (Peter Itskovich-Connor Sacks, 17-2), Schaumburg (Takayuki Higuchi-Dillon Early, 16-6), Fremd (Eric Pohl-Sudheer Vundru, 13-5), Fremd (Maciej Niemcyzk-Jinwood Oak, 3-1), Glenbrook South (Will Lyon-Michael Baddelloo).
Baseline chatter: The much-anticipated Lin-Galvin final at the MSL tournament never materialized when the sophomore from Schaumburg missed his 8 a.m. Saturday morning match, allowing Prospect junior Carson Burke an easier ride into the final where Galvin recorded a straight-set victory.
When Lin did arrive on site, the Saxons star went easily through all of his back-draw opponents to further establish him as the favorite here, and, this time, a likely matchup with Galvin. "I feel like I am ready for the next two weeks, and I know if I play well, that (I) can win the sectional title this weekend," said Lin, who went 3-2 at the prestigious Easter Bowl in April at Rancho Mirage, Calif. The real drama will come at doubles, where at least three spots are up for grabs as GBN's No. 1 Perez-Zakhodin was given a clean bill of health after Perez suffered an injury in the early going of the Deerfield Invite. The Spartans duo, who were a very good No. 2 last season for coach Jeff Jordan, finished fifth at the prestigious Pitchford 32 recently. Itskovich and Sacks built a nice record when together, with a quality win over New Trier on its resume. Fremd coach Matt Duncan has loaded up his doubles teams this weekend with the hope that the right combination could send both teams through. "Eric (Pohl) and Sudheer (Vundru) have been together several times this season, so we put those guys in as our No. 1, and moved Maciej (Niemcyzk) and Jinwoo Oak over to be our No. 2--- maybe we'll catch lightning in a bottle this weekend," said Duncan. Pohl and Oak came back to win the conference title at No. 1 doubles last weekend.
at Highland Park
When: Friday at 1 p.m.; Saturday at 9 a.m.
Who to watch: Singles: Toby Ma (Deerfield, 17-7) Jack Kasbeer (Deerfield, 21-6), Carson Burke (Prospect, 15-8), Ben Fisch (Prospect, 18-7), Dean Sheftel (Highland Park). Doubles: Buffalo Grove (Peter Georgiades-Anton Levitin, 9-7), Hersey (Brandon Stassen-Owen Connor, 10-13) Prospect (Sam Tambeaux-Ralph Tenuta, 13-9), Deerfield (Harrison Crist-Noah Rosenblat, 13-14), Highland Park (David Aizenberg-Teddy Dunn), Deerfield (Andrew Pekin-George Vanderkloot, 14-8).
Baseline chatter: Last year this venue was loaded, but the IHSA dispatched both Carmel and Lake Forest, and brought over most of the MSL East division here, along with Palatine and St. Viator. Deerfield senior Toby Ma, who is soon to be a four-time state qualifier, is clearly the best player, and along with his teammate, Jack Kasbeer, gives the Warriors the best 1-2 punch of any lineup. While Highland Park is under going a major reconstruction project, Steve Rudman is a tactical wizard at doubles play, and regardless of what the long-time head coach puts together, you can figure on a least one of the Giants doubles teams will offer stiff competition for one of the top 4 spots available. The Knights singles duo look ready to book their places to the state tournament after each earned runners-up trophies at the MSL tourney last weekend at Nos. 1 and 2 singles. For Burke, it would be his second straight trip. "That's what it's all about at this time of the year," said Burke, a junior who won 22 matches last season. The doubles trio from Buffalo Grove, Hersey and Prospect have taken turns beating one another all season, so fans should expect more of the same -- except this weekend, there's little room for error. The Bison beat Hersey (6-3, 6-4) for third place at the MSL tourney and lost to Prospect (6-4, 6-4) during the regular season, yet defeated the Knights in three sets in the second round of the MSL tournament.
When: Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.
Who to watch: Singles: Jeremy Bush (Stevenson, 22-3), Ben VanDixhorn (Libertyville, 21-7), Benjamin Bush (Stevenson, 12-4), Varun Parekh (Barrington, 15-7), Ismail Kadarov (Vernon Hills, 15-7), Grant Thompson (Lake Zurich, 13-5), Kevin Hunt (Carmel, 16-5) and Brandon Dechter (Carmel, 21-3). Doubles: Stevenson (Andrew Komarov-Colin Harvey, 12-2), Stevenson (Pawel Jaworski-Josh Lieberman, 19-3), Barrington (Ben Adams-Will Herzog), Libertyville (Jack Springgate-Scott Daluga, 22-6), Barrington (HB Thompson-Akash Khurana, 12-0), Carmel (Stephen Feely-Bryan Hunt, 20-3), Carmel (Michael Butler-Craig Paulson, 18-3), Lake Zurich (Dave Brown-Kevin Croneigh, 10-9).
Baseline chatter: Expect fierce competition at this wickedly good sectional, where the talent goes 6-7 deep. An all-star cast includes potential top four state finisher Jeremy Bush of Stevenson, as well as quartet of state qualifiers -- not to mention a handful of very skilled No. 2 players, who at some sectionals would be top-four seeds. It's much the same at doubles, where the only guarantee appears to be a likely final on Saturday between the high-powered Stevenson teams, with the rest involved in a battle for the final two qualifying spots. "It's is so deep in the singles field, and there is no doubt that previous state qualifiers won't be getting through, so everyone (here) will have their work cut out for them, because there's no free passes into the state tournament from this sectional," says Stevenson coach Tom Stanhope, who last week led his Patriots to a NSC title. Despite lifting the MSL crown one week ago, Barrington finds itself in a fight to advance players to state. "Your going to have to grind out everything out at this sectional, it's so deep and talented," said Barrington coach John Roncone. "So you've got to be mentally and physically strong, and when you can, you've got to finish off points and opponents when you can, or you'll be in trouble." Broncos four-year standout Parekh is a veteran of two state tournaments, while the trio of VanDixhorn, Springgate and Dulaga won a combined 7 matches at the tourney last spring. Vernon Hills senior Ismail Kadarov has two trips to the tourney under his belt, and won over 30 matches in 2012, while ESCC champion Carmel brings a sparkling lineup to this site, including No. 2 champ Brandon Dechter.
When: Friday at 1 p.m., Saturday at 9 a.m.
Who to watch: Singles: Krystian Trukov (Warren, 30-6), Peter Tarwid (Lake Forest), Brice Polander (Lake Forest), Scott Seiler (Warren, 17-8), Braden Ward (Antioch). Doubles: Warren (Matt Matheny-Samuel Gudeman, 8-3), Lake Forest (John Zordani-Scott Christian), Warren (Ben Skelton-Ben Hardiman, 20-14), Lake Forest (Camron Bagheri-Connor O'Kelly).
Baseline chatter: Can anyone break into the top four, aside from Lake Forest and Warren? The always optimistic Greg Cohen of Warren says if someone does, it will likely be Antioch's Braden Ward, but nobody will touch the Scouts. "Lake Forest is the class of this sectional," Cohen says. "They beat us 7-0 in a dual and are the leading challenger to Hinsdale Central for the state title." Cohen also has put together another strong unit, which is quite capable of sending all four entrants into the state tournament. The Marquette-bound Trukov has been an extraordinary player for Cohen and his club, recently setting the all-time record for wins in the program while stating his case for a 5-8 seed next weekend. The four-year star won't have to wait long to face Peter Tarwid for the third time this season, with the potential 3-4 state seed looking to make it three straight over Trukov. Seiler, a freshman, has spent a fair amount of time at doubles for Warren, but 17 victories for the rookie at singles is most impressive, while Warren's No. 1 doubles team of Matt Matheny/Samuel Gudemann is finally back together once again after Gudemann suffered a late injury. Matheny, a senior, is 28-12, with 11 victories at singles, and a handfull more when paired with John Westerberg. Cohen was thrilled to watch his No. 2 (Skelton-Hardiman) come back from (5-2) in the third set against Libertyville to win and clinch third place overall at the NSC tourney.
-- Mike Garofola