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Article updated: 10/12/2013 7:33 PM

St. Charles East wins 1st conference title since '99

St. Charles Eastís Jaci Spoerl in the second singles championship game at the Upstate Eight Conference in Geneva on Saturday, October 12.

St. Charles East's Jaci Spoerl in the second singles championship game at the Upstate Eight Conference in Geneva on Saturday, October 12.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Genevaís Grace Krueger in the second singles championship game at the Upstate Eight Conference in Geneva on Saturday, October 12.

Geneva's Grace Krueger in the second singles championship game at the Upstate Eight Conference in Geneva on Saturday, October 12.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

St. Charles Northís Micaela Mascha in the third singles final match at the Upstate Eight Conference in Geneva on Saturday, October 12.

St. Charles North's Micaela Mascha in the third singles final match at the Upstate Eight Conference in Geneva on Saturday, October 12.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Elginís Dahlia Keonavongsa in the first singles final match at the Upstate Eight Conference in Geneva on Saturday, October 12.

Elgin's Dahlia Keonavongsa in the first singles final match at the Upstate Eight Conference in Geneva on Saturday, October 12.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

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Pick any local high school football or basketball game and a chant you'll likely hear from the student section is, "I believe that we will win."

On Saturday morning, the St. Charles East's girls tennis team used a variation of that theme moments after the completion of the final doubles match of the day at the Upstate Eight Conference River Division tournament.

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"I believe that we have won Ö I believe that we have won," chanted the jubilant Saints, who edged out 3-time defending champion Batavia and Geneva to capture their first conference title since 1999.

Led by second doubles winners Alexa and Carly Huskisson, and the first-place fourth doubles team of Katie Downing and Kelly Rinker, the Saints amassed 67 total points (including all conference matches) to sneak past Batavia (65) and Geneva (65).

"It's weird because it finished the same exact way we went into the tournament," said St. Charles East coach Sena Drawer. "We were two points ahead (coming in) and Batavia and Geneva were tied, and when it ended, we were two points ahead and they were tied."

The Saints earned the top position heading into Saturday's tournament thanks in part to their performance during Wednesday's conclusion of a head-to-head match against Geneva that was originally suspended due to darkness.

Seniors Haydyn Jones and Kelsie Roberton rallied for a 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Geneva's Margo Hess and Emma Hazel at first doubles while Pruthvi Patel came back for a 3-set win at fourth singles to seal the Saints' 5-2 dual victory.

Despite dropping Friday's first-round match to Batavia's Megan Garvin, Patel also played an important role for the Saints on Saturday.

"She had to beat the Larkin girl (Baylee Matison) this morning (in the consolation round)," said Drawer. "Once that happened, everything else fell into place."

The Huskisson twins earned a 6-3, 7-5 title win over Batavia's Brooke LeFevre and Sydnee Unterberg at second doubles, while Downing and Rinker cruised to a straight-set victory over Batavia's Ashlyn Turner and Shannon Gloudeman at fourth doubles.

Geneva swept the 3 UEC River singles titles behind the efforts of Kirby Einck, Grace Krueger and Elizabeth Prendergast.

Einck, a junior, earned her second consecutive conference crown at first singles with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Elgin's Dahlia Keonavongsa.

"I was trying to work on my placement a little bit more because I know she's a lefty and she puts some weird spin on the ball," said Einck. "Every time she served it would pull me way out wide and she's got that spin that will (make the ball) jump over my head. I had to be careful and make sure I'd take the ball on the rise."

Krueger, a freshman, defeated St. Charles East's Jaci Spoerl, 6-1, 6-2, in the second singles finals.

"I tried to make it my goal -- to win conference," said Krueger.

At third singles, Prendergast knocked off the top 2 seeds on her way to the title. After rallying past Batavia's Megan Garvin (1-6, 6-4, 7-5) in the semis, Prendergast downed St. Charles North's Micaela Mascha (6-2, 6-2) in the finals.

"I just kept the points going longer," said Prendergast, who had lost to Mascha a week earlier. "I did my best to keep it in and hit the corners."

Batavia picked up a pair of doubles titles, as Jenny Mizikar and Amelia Cogan won in the top slot, while Holly Smorczewski and Julianne Robinson were victorious in the third position.

St. Charles East received second-place doubles finishes from Jones and Roberton (first) and Emmy Russell and Jamie Youngberg (third) as well as a fourth-place effort from senior Sarah Church at first singles.

"When I saw Haydyn, Kelsie and Sarah as freshmen four years ago I was pretty sure that if we did all the right stuff this would happen their senior year," said Drawer. "I couldn't be more pleased for them. They're hardworking, and this doesn't happen without the parents' support.

"It has been a very, very exciting and rewarding four years with them," added Drawer. "We needed that. We've got a ball on the wall (of the storage shed alongside the courts) now so we're happy."

The Saints will host sectional action Friday and Saturday.

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