Third-set heroics from Colin Harvey and Andrew Komarov not only saved the day for themselves, but likely also a chance at a team trophy as Stevenson's top doubles team came all the way back to win a marathon three-setter and advance into Saturday's semifinals of the boys tennis state tournament.
Harvey/Komarov (20-2) roared back from a 7-6 (4) first-set loss to Lake Forest's John Zordani/Scott Christian (27-2) to win the next two sets, the last in dramatic fashion on Friday. That helped ease the sting of a disappointing day of tennis for the Patriots, while at the same time pushing coach Tom Stanhope's team just ahead of Lake Forest (31-30) in the race for second place.
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Defending champion Hinsdale Central has already begun an early celebration with the Red Devils ahead of the Patriots by 17 points as the third and final day of play begins this morning.
"That was a huge win for us, and Colin and Andrew," said a relieved Stanhope, who earlier watched his top player, Jeremy Bush (29-4) sent into the backdraw by Michael Lorenzini (Hinsdale Central) in the quarterfinals. The Pats' No. 2 doubles team, Pawel Jaworski/Josh Lieberman (25-5) also suffered a three-set defeat to Oak Park-River Forest's Jeremy Dixon/Graham Lehman (16-1).
Jaworski/Lieberman will be at Buffalo Grove at 8 a.m. Saturday to meet Evanston's Sam Wiener/Connor Wolf, while Bush plays Jack Kasbeer of Deerfield when the backdraw begins.
"We could have been in a lot of trouble today if those two lose," said Stanhope of Harvey/Komarov, "but they played great in that third set. And when Harvey climbed the fence and hit an unbelievable winner, it was the match."
The victory would avenge two earlier losses to the Scouts for Harvey/Komarov.
Bush was dominant after a shaky start in his Friday opener against freshman Mack Galvin (Rolling Meadows, 35-6). And Bush seemed to have an advantage against Lorenzini, who in his first match of the day needed nearly three hours before outlasting Warren star Krystian Trukov (38-8) in three sets.
But it wasn't to be for Bush, as the Red Devils sophomore powered through a straight-set victory.
"I didn't attack (Lorenzini) as I should have, and may have played the worst match of the season against him," said Bush. "I never was able to string a few points together at any time during our match, and when I won a game, I would lose two. But that's behind me, and now it's all about winning my last three in the backdraw to get important points for the team."
Trukov overcame his heartbreaking loss to Lorenzini by winning both of his backdraw matches, and next meets Alex Galoustian (New Trier).
"That game penalty heading into the third set really set me back, and it obviously is not the way to start the most important set, being behind already," said Trukov, who was assessed the penalty after arriving back on the court a few moments later after the mandatory 20 minutes between sets. "I tried to get back in it despite that, but could just not get anything going."
"We were stretching Kristiyan out, and I really thought we had enough time to get back out, so I don't know if I really agreed with that penalty," said Warren assistant Jeff Bernales.
A brilliant two-day run for junior Ben VanDixhorn (30-10) and his Libertyville doubles teammates, Jack Springgate/Scott Daluga (29-9), came to an end Friday afternoon when each fell in the backdraw.
VanDixhorn dropped a hard-fought two set match in his opener at Hersey to eventual semifinalist Eric Marbach of Waubonsie Valley, 7-6 (5), 6-0, then went on to win his first backdraw contest before being eliminated by Kasbeer 6-3, 7-5.
"Eric was strong, and a big hitter, but I felt I played him well in that first set," said VanDixhorn, "but I know things began to turn in his favor after dropping that tiebreaker."
Springgate/Daluba saw their season end at Prospect High School after marvelous victories over Quincy and Neuqua Valley before Lake Forest's Cameron Bagheri/Connor O'Kelly ended their run with a 6-4, 6-4 decision.
"I was really exited to be here this weekend, because we've come such a long way this season, and I was continually impressed with how Scott's tennis IQ grew sharper each time we played together," said Springgate, a two-time state qualifier. "And I felt the great chemistry we developed went a long way toward the success we had, especially in the final 3-4 weeks of the season."
Vernon Hills' Ishmail Kadyrov/David Drobik fell in the consolation round on Friday with a three-set loss to Moline, while Warren's No. 1, Matt Matheny-Samuel Gudeman joined their NSC rivals after falling to Peoria Richwoods.
"Sam wasn't at 100 percent and they probably should not have gone today," said Warren head coach Greg Cohen, "but they were a great team for us this year, and even better teammates."