After battling all season long to impose themselves as serious contenders in the area, Fox Valley Conference power and sectional champ Jacobs has just one remaining player alive at the 98th Illinois State Tennis Championships in Arlington Heights.
Freshmen Kailash Panchapakesa (33-6), who finished third at sectionals behind Andre Norasith (South Elgin) and Hampshire junior Elisha Hougland, finds himself in the consolation bracket against Austin Russell (Plainfield South) after going 2-1 on the day at the Hoffman Estates venue Thursday.
His Jacobs teammate, and fellow varsity rookie Kendrick Chong earned two victories, but when he fell in three sets to Cole Bueherkemper (St. Anthony) his tournament run would end, while the Golden Eagles' doubles teams of Kingsley Bernardo-Brandon Sidor and Kristian Bernardo-Keegan Gaspari went 1-2 on the day.
Bernardo-Sidor (28-7) were FVC runners up, before capturing the sectional title at Elgin last weekend.
"I was really nervous at the start of my first match," admitted Panchapakesa, but I slowly settled (in) as the first set went on."
"When it became 4-0 in the second set, I felt all of the pressure had been lifted, and from there on I was relaxed, and closed out the match."
The young star would sandwich straight-set victories over Kevin Wang (Naperville Central), and another freshman, John King of Marmion Academy, in between a 6-2, 6-0 loss to 9-16 seed, Brendan Metzler of Rockford Auburn.
"Kailash has been a welcome player to our program, and has had a terrific first season with us, and we look forward to having him around for the next three years," said Jacobs assistant coach Mark Scheurich.
The mood was still bright for South Elgin head coach Brett Johnson even after his top player, Norasith (34-9), was eliminated following a pair of defeats at tourney host Hersey, in addition to the two losses suffered by his doubles team of Francis Manzano-Aayush Patel (25-18) in Schaumburg.
"Each year our program continues to get better, and our guys (here) are the proof of that fact," began Johnson. "For the second time in as many years, we qualified two teams, and that says a lot about our guys."
Last season, Norasith went 3-2 at state/
While Norasith and Patel will be the core of the Storm lineup next spring, Manzano, after graduation, will be attending the Chamberlain College of Nursing.
Cary-Grove senior Owen Russell (29-8) just missed the 30-victory level, but was still able to grab at least one state victory in his first appearance before bowing out in the second round of the back-draw.
The Purdue-bound Russell advanced to the state tournament last weekend from the Cary-Grove sectional with a big win over Ryan Kohl of Prairie Ridge in his state qualifying match.
"Owen lost a heartbreaking three-setter to Kohl last year, and had to fight off the demons left over from that match to beat Kohl this year. It was a huge win, and it finally got (that) monkey off his back," said Trojans head coach Amanda Schuetzle.
Two-time state qualifier Hougland (36-9) was unable to break through in order to stay alive in the tournament after a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Aaron Skaier of Belleville East eliminated the junior in the second round of the back-draw.
Hougland will begin his final season with Hampshire next spring with 95 victories after defeating two-time state qualifier and sectional champion Aaron Waters of Marian Central.
His Whip-Purs teammates, Jake Dahlberg-Chad West, had a shortened stay when the doubles pair also lost in the second round to Geneva (John Potts-Nick McCarty) 6-1, 6-1.
"It felt great to be here for our first time," said the junior Dahlberg.
"We were a little nervous in that first match, but we worked through it, and got our first (state) win (7-5, 6-4) over Chicago U-High," added West.
Jon Betts' top doubles team finished third last weekend at the Elgin sectional, and helped the club to a third-place finish in the team race.