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updated: 5/17/2013 11:41 PM

Top seeds play well on opening day

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  • Geneva's Nick Haung returns serve during his first round doubles match during sectional tennis action at Geneva High School Friday.

       Geneva's Nick Haung returns serve during his first round doubles match during sectional tennis action at Geneva High School Friday.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Dominic Amalraj of St. Charles North hits a forehand during sectional tennis action at St. Charles North High School Friday.

       Dominic Amalraj of St. Charles North hits a forehand during sectional tennis action at St. Charles North High School Friday.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Lake Park's Jack Millikan lunges for a backhand at the net during a doubles match at sectional tennis action at Geneva High School Friday.

       Lake Park's Jack Millikan lunges for a backhand at the net during a doubles match at sectional tennis action at Geneva High School Friday.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles East's Jasper Koenen readies his backhand during sectional tennis action at St. Charles North High School Friday.

       St. Charles East's Jasper Koenen readies his backhand during sectional tennis action at St. Charles North High School Friday.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

It was a good day to be a favorite at the Geneva boys tennis sectional.

The top two singles seeds easily won two matches to qualify for state and advance to the sectional semifinals at 9 a.m. Saturday at Geneva.

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Top seed Jasper Koenen from St. Charles East and No. 2 Dominic Amalraj from St. Charles North are one win away from meeting for the championship. The two played once during the year with Koenen winning in straight sets.

"He's a great player," Amalraj said of Koenen. "He's just a phenomenal tennis player. He really moves the ball around. He's got great ground strokes. Whenever you play him you have to do your very best. He's one of the top players in the state and playing him will let me know where I rank."

To get to that title match, Amalraj will first have to beat one of Koenen's teammates, Justin Bowman, in the semifinals. Amalraj played doubles last year, but he and Bowman have squared off during their sophomore season with Amalraj coming out on top.

Amalraj made quick work of both of his opponents Friday, starting with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Glenbard North's Matt Mistro in a match that Amalraj said was a tougher than the score indicates.

"All the games were close, it was a very tough match," Amalraj said. "I was a little nervous at first because it was sectionals. Just go out and play and once I get out to a little lead I calmed down and played a little better. I don't mind being nervous because it means I care."

Amalraj's next match went even quicker, a 6-0, 6-0 victory against Lake Park's Nick Rex.

"I'm happy with how I played," Amalraj said. "Two good matches and I'm looking forward to tomorrow's matches. I was less nervous (against Rex), I played a lot better."

Amalraj is a senior who will attend Indiana University next year but not play tennis, making this final week of his high school season -- first Saturday at the sectional and then next week at state -- that much more meaningful.

"I'm going to miss playing," Amalraj said. "I'm excited for the rest of the season. I'm really confident, I'm playing well."

On the doubles side, the late afternoon rain pushed three of the four state-qualifying matches back to Saturday. Those six doubles teams vying for three spots at state will start their matches at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

The only team to get two matches in Friday and advance was the No. 2 seed, Lake Park's Jack Millikan and Evan Sabal. The duo finished second in sectionals and then won three matches at state a year ago, and they look poised for another long run.

"It feels really good," Millikan said. "This was our goal coming in here. Not thinking about getting first but qualifying for state. We got the job done."

The duo opened with a 6-0, 6-1 victory against Bartlett and then got past St. Charles North's Peter O'Brien and Mitch Riggs, 6-2, 6-3. "Our serves were on and we were hitting everything we could back at tough angles," Sabal said. "We put away points."

Lake Park coach Tim Martin was pleased with their aggressive play.

"I thought they played really well," Martin said. "They were moving forward well, communicating well and they served well. They finished at the net. That's a good combination.

"They have been captains and set the tone for us. I'm really proud of them. They have worked really hard. To qualify back to back, it's hard. This is a very tough sectional. They played a very good St. Charles North team and came through."

St. Charles North still has a doubles team alive. Grant Spellman and Keith Hedges are tied 3-3 with Fenton in the first set in a match North Stars coach Sean Masoncup said it might have been a break that the rain came because his team can play better.

The winner of that match likely will play the No. 1 seed from Geneva, Nick Huang and Ryan Dockel. They won the first set and led 5-2 in the second when it was suspended.

Geneva also has a second doubles team alive, Nick McCarty and John Potts who are playing Wheaton Academy after upsetting St. Charles East's Matt McCarthy and George Spoerl.

At West Aurora: Rain also played havoc with the West Aurora sectional Friday.

The top two doubles teams -- including No. 2 seed Jackson Rettig and John Graft from Marmion -- are through to state.

No. 2 seed Danny Albert from Naperville Central was the only singles player to win two matches and qualify for state. All the other suspended matches will resume at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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