Stevenson lived up to its billing, and its North Suburban Conference brethren stayed in the limelight as well as the first day of the 98th boys tennis state tournament drew to a close Thursday.
After brief rainfall welcomed the 64-player singles field at 12 sites near host Hersey in Arlington Heights, Patriots top player Jeremy Bush sent a trio of opponents packing to earn his spot in the fourth round against 17-32 seed Mack Galvin (35-5), a freshman from Rolling Meadows.
Their 9 a.m. Friday match will take place at Hersey, where all the singles competition from the championship bracket will be held.
Doubles will be contested at Buffalo Grove, where the Patriot team of Colin Harvey/Andrew Komarov (18-2) take on 9-16 seed Naperville Central (Wesley Lo-Sid Swamy).
The Patriots' Pawel Jaworski/Josh Lieberman, 24-4) will take the courts opposite Lake Forest's Cameron Bagheri/Connor O'Kelly. The tandems split a pair of meetings earlier this season.
"Pawel and Josh felt good from the start, and they were serving very well as a team," said Patriots assistant coach Mark Linnenberger, who was with the 5-8 seed at Schaumburg.
Over at Palatine, Harvey-Komarov make quick work of their three opponents before making the trip to Arlington Heights, where they saw freshman teammate Benjamin Bush (18-6) come back from his loss in the opener to sweep the next three to stay alive in the consolation bracket.
That effort was key to the Patriots' point total, which stands at 21. That's 3 points behind first-place Hindale Central, and 1 back from both Lake Forest and New Trier.
"Ben kind of tweaked his back in that first match of his, but he got back into it, which was big for us in the overall team race," said Stevenson coach Tom Stanhope.
The news continue to get better as the sun finally broke through during the middle of the afternoon, with both senior Kristiyan Trukov (35-7) of Warren, and junior Ben VanDixhorn (27-8) of Libertyville putting on a superb display of singles play to advance into the fourth round.
Trukov, given a 5-8 seed, will meet 9-16 Michael Lorenzini (Hinsdale Central) after dispatching three foes at Rolling Meadows. VanDixhorn did likewise at Prospect, including an impressive 7-5, 6-3 victory over NSC rival Brice Polender (22-9) of Lake Forest, whose hopes for a team state title took a hit with this loss.
Next up for the Wildcats' lefty will be 5-8 seed Eric Marbach of Waubonsie Valley.
"Ben and Brice are very good friends, but as I told him, when the match begins, the friendship is over," said Libertyville coach Dan Koerner, who later learned his top doubles team of Jack Springgate/Scott Daluga (26-8) were stopped in the third round by the reigning state champs from Hindale Central, Alex Hagermoser/Peter Henegan. The Libertyville duo will pick play up today in the consolation bracket.
Trukov had no shaky moments during his day at Rolling Meadows and was on and off the courts quickly, much to the delight of assistant coach Jeff Bernales.
"We came in and wanted Kristiyan to be efficient and clean out there today, and he was, and when you see the effort and results from today it only validates all of the hard work and extra time he has put in this year, and throughout his career," said Bernales.
Ben Hardiman/Ben Skelton are done after going 1-2 at Schaumburg, while the Blue Devils' No. 1 team of Matt Matheny/Samuel Gudeman won its first two matches in the backdraw after a win, and loss in the second round to Conant's Peter Itskovich/Connor Sacks. Matheny/Gudeman face a 17-32 from Peoria Richwoods Friday morning.
Put together just before the sectional tournament, Vernon Hills' Ishamil Kadyrov/David Dobrik (7-3) played as if they were doubles partners from day No. 1. The Cougars duo got over some first-match jitters to defeat Geneva in three sets before cruising past Rockford Guilford to set up what looked like on paper a tough matchup with a 3-4 seed from Hinsdale Central, Eddie Grabill/Harold Martin.
However, after a 6-1 pasting in the first set, Kadyrov-Dobrik fashioned a marvelous second result, winning 6-3. The Red Devils regained the upper hand in the third set and won 6-3.
"What a terrific effort those two guys put in against Hinsdale," said Vernon Hills coach Doug Gerber. "In that second set, Dobrik took over at the net, and (Kadyrov) was just killing them with his returns. And when he was serving, they played two back to try to counter his big serve, and they just couldn't.
"It was 3-all in that third set, and it was tight, but they broke (Kadryov) and we didn't break back. But it was a great match, especially against such a great opponent."
Freshman Braden Ward's first state appearance ever was a short one as the Antioch standout finished 0-2.