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updated: 10/9/2013 5:29 PM

Variation suits Vernon Hills as NSC tourney begins

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By Marty Maciaszek
Daily Herald Correspondent

Vernon Hills found out this year how difficult it can be to sustain success.

The Cougars won their 11th North Suburban Prairie girls tennis title in 14 years. But this year's crown was unlike the others for coach Doug Gerber.

"The girls did a fantastic job," Gerber said. "We had people injured and it seemed that every night we were using new combinations to try to win the match. A lot of girls stepped up.

"In my 13 years at Vernon Hills it was probably the most diversified lineup I've had. We were trying to find the right doubles combinations and overall I think some of the girls had five or six different doubles partners."

Gerber hopes he has found the right duos for the NSC tournament starting today and running through Saturday and the sectional next week.

Seniors Rachel Jacoby and Melissa Roshass were the NSC fourth seed at No. 1 doubles and senior Elizabeth Borgman, who has played No. 1 singles, will team with Jillian Roussel at No. 2. They won a quad with Niles West, Evanston and Reavis two weeks ago.

Prathushya Namburi and Shreya Kathuria also got the No. 4 seed at third doubles. Mary Tsakadze and Victoria Sobolev will battle in the loaded Nos. 1 and 2 singles fields.

Gerber also credited Leah Dosemagen, Hannah Cho, Crystal Shang, Stella Shang and Katie Franz for helping achieve the first of the program's annual goals of winning the division title. The second is to get a top-four team finish this weekend and the third is to have a state qualifier.

"We'll see how things play out and see if someone can make a run at conference and use that as a springboard (to sectionals)," Gerber said.

Bear market: Lake Zurich also got a pair of No. 4 seeds in the NSC tourney in senior Arianna Soheil at No. 2 singles and senior Sam Bendfeldt and junior Stephanie Johnson at No. 2 doubles.

Soheil was fifth last year in the NSC at No. 2. She is 9-6 at that spot this year and 17-9 overall.

"We're super-pleased she was able to get a seed and hopefully she can live up to it and match it," said third-year LZ coach Aaron Rogers. "Part of her goal is to better that."

Bendfeldt and Johnson are 13-5 in their first year paired together. Bendfeldt was fifth in doubles and Johnson was fifth at No. 3 singles in the NSC last year.

They took fifth out of 16 teams and were the second-best No. 2 doubles team at the Rolling Meadows Invitational last weekend.

"It's funny, to them every match is just a match," Rogers said of their approach. "They've competed, but what I really like about them is they're very calm on the court.

"Their success is definitely not a surprise. They really complement each other well and keep each other loose and upbeat."

That's how Rogers feels about the Bears right now as they have improved to 11-6 overall after finishing around .500 last year. They took fourth at Meadows behind Glenbard West, Fremd and Benet.

"This is the strongest team we've had in my three years," Rogers said. I knew we had a chance to do something special and compete. We're definitely moving up and moving in the right direction."

Devil of a time on Saturdays: Only bad weather could stop Warren's streak of Saturday success when its quadrangular was canceled because of a shaky forecast and the potential for delays causing problems with Homecoming dance schedules.

But the title in the Crystal Lake Central Invite on Sept. 28 put the Devils at 5-for-5 in Saturday events this season.

"We're playing pretty well," said Warren coach Vince DeSecki. "I think we're playing some of our best tennis right now."

Which is perfect timing with the biggest Saturdays of the season ahead with the NSC, sectional and state tourneys. The high level of play includes wins over Mid-Suburban League power Barrington from the Devils' doubles crews of Max Mella and Courtney Sunday at No. 1 and Mikayla Schultz and Lauren Vrabel at No. 2.

"That's not something that happens all the time," DeSecki said.

Mella-Sunday (19-6), Vrabel-Schultz (23-4) and No. 3 Lindsey O'Brien-Julie Zysk were all seeded third in doubles. Karyna Bihel (22-4) is seeded third at No. 1 singles and Alex Mella (26-1) is seeded second at No. 2 singles.

"They're essentially both No. 1 singles players," DeSecki said of flip-flopping Bihel and Mella between the top two spots. "When you have two players of that caliber it's hard to choose who plays where."

Doubled over: Stevenson's No. 2 doubles team of Michelle Tulchinskaya and Kaylin Dong finally completed a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Lake Forest's Margaux Miller and Colleen Morris on Tuesday. Their match last Thursday was suspended at 5-3 in the third set because of darkness.

Lake Forest won the North Suburban Lake dual 4-3.

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