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updated: 9/5/2013 5:08 PM

Girls tennis: Scouting the Fox Valley

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  • Bartlett's Jennifer Gates is a returning state qualifier.

      Bartlett's Jennifer Gates is a returning state qualifier.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Dahlia Keonavongsa qualified for state last season as a freshman.

      Elgin's Dahlia Keonavongsa qualified for state last season as a freshman.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent

Bartlett Hawks

Coach: Kari Klein

Top returning players: Seniors Jennifer Gates (No. 1 doubles), Gabriella Gregorio (No. 1 doubles)

Outlook: Gates and Gregorio are both three-time state qualifiers. Gates has a second-team all-state selection to her credit. Klein said the team prides itself on its sportsmanship and teamwork. "We're making sure our serves are hard and our net game is fierce," she said. "We're focusing on having a positive winning attitude and on being aggressive and highly competitive. I think the season is going to be great. We're aiming for state and I know with hard work and determination we can make it." Bartlett resides in the always competitive Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division. "My girls enjoy playing skilled teams such as Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley and Metea Valley," said Klein.

Cary-Grove Trojans

Coach: Laurie Bender (1st season)

2012 finish: 11-12, 1-5 FVC Valley

Top returning players: Seniors Macy Koepke, Alyssa Derer, Jessica Hinojosa, Anna Michaelchuck

Key newcomers: Juniors Ali Sturtecky, Rachel Langer, sophomores Lauren Betz, Tori Baranowski, freshman Sanjana Rao

Outlook: Bender is no stranger to the tennis programs at Cary-Grove. She was the frosh-soph girls' coach for 22 years (183-37 record) and the boys' frosh-soph coach for 21 years (187-71 record). She takes over a team that returns Koepke, who was an honorable mention all-conference selection at No. 1 singles last year. "I am very excited to be the varsity girls' coach for Cary-Grove," she said. "It is my hope to be able to build on the previous accomplishments and encourage all players to grow with the sport and become better players. Our team goal will be to play each match to the best of our ability and be good sports whether we win or lose." Bender said Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South, Jacobs and Prairie Ridge will be top-tier contenders in the FVC.

Crystal Lake South Gators

Coach: Don Nead

2012 finish: Fox Valley Conference champions

Top returning players: Seniors Julia Thome (No. 1 singles), Rachel Rasmussen (No. 1 doubles), Jacqueline Borem (No. 2 singles, No. 2 doubles), Kelsey Laktash (No. 1 doubles), junior Kaitlyn Bookout (No. 2 singles, No. 2 doubles)

Key newcomers: Seniors Kylee Fetzner, Ella Mazurek, juniors Danielle Baietto, Anusha Subramanian, Kristina Smithana.

Outlook: South is stacked with talented returning players. Thome was a state qualifier in singles last year and was the FVC No. 2 singles champion. Rasmussen and Borem were the conference No. 2 doubles titlists, while Laktash was a sectional doubles champion. "The nice thing about this team is we did lose a lot from last year, but the players we do have coming back are going to be competitive," said Nead. "It really helps when you return three conference and one sectional champion. It gives us a solid foundation to build on. The girls that were JV and frosh-soph players last year are pretty skilled and were productive on the lower levels. I think they will be productive on the varsity level." Nead said to keep an eye on Crystal Lake Central, Prairie Ridge and Jacobs in the FVC. South started the season with dual wins over Johnsburg and McHenry.

Dundee-Crown Chargers

Coach: Stephanie McClure (1st season)

Top returning players: Camille Balch, Lexi Hawkey, Katelyn Ashacher, Morganne Schmidt, Taylor Heather, Felicia Zaporowski, Hannah Rakow

Key newcomers: Kimmy Skvarla, Tessa O'Bert, Ellie Gentile, Natalie Bieri, Jessica Steifer, Christine Johnsen, Danielle Pautz, Kayla Martin

Outlook: McClure takes over the Chargers program and likes what she sees. "There is a lot of talent on the team this year," she said. "I look forward to developing their strengths and focusing on being competitive in the conference."

Elgin Maroons

Coach: Sara Ball (1st season)

Top returning players: Sophomore Dahlia Keonavongsa

Outlook: Ball coached junior varsity tennis in 2011 and now takes over a Maroons team that returns sophomore singles player Keonavongsa, who qualified for state her freshman year. "Our strength is Dahlia," said Ball. "She has high aspirations to make it to the state tournament again this year. Our team has a lot of opportunities. We are a very young team and our major goal this season is gaining depth and developing players for the future."

Elgin Academy Hilltoppers

Coach: Greg Repede (9th season)

2012 finish: 10-11, 1-5 Independent School League

Top returning players: Seniors Jordan Yavari (No. 1 singles), Makena Barickman (No. 2 singles), Hanna Ivanovich (No. 2 doubles), Sofia Skok (No. 2 doubles), junior Kayla Schwan (No. 1 doubles), sophomore Emma May (No. 1 doubles)

Outlook: Elgin Academy features 6 seniors and 2 juniors on its 12-girl roster. "We have a very balanced group of veteran players," said Repede. "The Top 6 all played varsity last year. Yavari ranks in the Top 3 all-time for singles wins in program history. Barickman moved to singles midway through last year and has shown improvement. The Hilltoppers also feature talented doubles team. "Schwan and May (No. 1 doubles) could have an outstanding season together and Ivanovich and Skok play smart and consistent doubles," said Repede. "This is definitely the hardest working, closest group of young women we've had. Our goals are to improve our tennis skills and enjoy the experience."

Hampshire Whip-Purs

Coach: Bill Jepsen (1st season)

Top returning players: Senior Monica Patthana, junior Julie Schreiner, sophomore Hannah Hougland

Outlook: Jepsen is the team's new coach and takes over a team that returns the likes of senior team captain Patthana, Schreiner and Hougland.

Huntley Red Raiders

Coach: Barry Wells (9th season)

2012 finish: 15-4

Top returning players: Seniors Ally Pietrusiak, Brooke Romero, Tamara Funke, Jessica Chalas, Jantzen Rosales, Katie Gallegos, Pooja Patel, Venicia Alvarez, Alicia Pietramale

Key newcomers: Seniors Nicolette Davila, Haley McCartney, Jackie Wyslak

Outlook: Huntley is coming off a 2012 season where it took second at the sectional, qualified three players for the state tournament and won the Spirit of the Northwest tournament. "We hope to have multiple state qualifiers and to be competitive in the Fox Valley Conference," said Wells. "We currently have all seniors in the starting lineup, which gives us great experience. Losing our No. 1 singles player from last year will hurt, but we have good depth, especially in doubles."

Jacobs Golden Eagles

Coach: Jon Betts

Top players: Ashley Kosy (No. 1 singles), Rachael Buttolph (No. 2 singles), Emily Halvorson (No. 3 singles), Miranda Corbett (No. 1 doubles), Morgan Vachio (No. 1 doubles), Emma Nickoley (No. 2 doubles), Dena Kontos (No. 2 doubles), Hannah Jackowski (No. 3 doubles), Chloe Moders (No. 3 doubles), Lauren Bayer (No. 4 doubles), Sara Elliott (No. 4 doubles)

Outlook: Jacobs got off to a strong start by going 5-0 in its first five dual matches. Jacobs started the season with a 7-0 win over Johnsburg, a 6-1 win over McHenry and a 7-0 win over Hampshire.

St. Edward Green Wave

Coach: Paul Netzel

Top returning players: Juniors Brianne Lagtapon, Giscela Carrillo, sophomores Kennedy Clute, Annemarie Petty

Key newcomers: Senior Molly Willman

Outlook: Lagtapon and Petty are returning singles players, while Carrillo and Clute are returning doubles players. Willman will boost the singles division. "First and foremost we would like to be competitive, improve during the season and create a positive direction for the girls' tennis program at St. Ed's," said Netzel. "The girls have been working hard and have shown a great attitude preparing for the upcoming season."

South Elgin Storm

Coach: Melissa Tuftedal

2012 finish: 5th place Upstate Eight Valley

Top returning players: Seniors Beth Weaver (No. 2 singles), Madison Essex (No. 2 doubles), junior Fiona McCullough (No. 1 doubles), sophomore Corinne Hildebrandt (No. 1 singles)

Key newcomers: Seniors Ellen Hall (No. 4 doubles), Sam Thies (No. 3 doubles), Vicky Perevozkina (No. 3 doubles), juniors Josie Seykota (No. 1 doubles), Jordane Waichunas (No. 2 doubles), Karina Michel (No. 4 doubles), Michelle Lee (No. 3 singles)

Outlook: Tuftedal likes the athleticism of her team. "We have athletic girls who always try to do their best," she said. "Each girl is hard working and has the determination to win. We have to make sure we are aggressive at the net and continue to give 100% dedication to the team. We are looking forward to an exciting season. We have a combination of veteran players and newcomers working together."

Streamwood Sabres

Coach: Kimberly Triplett (1st season)

Top returning players: Stephanie Sakyi (No. 1 singles), Justina Mei (No. 2 singles), Riya Chaudhari (No. 1 doubles), Nadalyn Khoxayo (No. 1 doubles)

Key newcomers: Senior Ashlyn Hill, freshman Arifa Barber

Outlook: Triplett takes over a team that features six returning seniors. "As the new coach, I am concentrating on consistency," she said. "It is important for the girls to visualize their shots so they can better execute them on the court. Once they understand how and why the ball moves a certain way, they will be able to better their games." While the roster does feature six returning seniors, there also are numerous newcomers. "I am looking forward to how our season will progress," said Triplett. "The six returning seniors will help with how our team will rank this year. We also have many new players to our team this year who are excited to learn and advance their skills. The girls have great attitudes and enjoy learning from each other. I am looking forward to seeing how and where our team will end its season."

Didn't provide information: Larkin

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