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updated: 10/16/2013 12:41 AM

Neuqua Valley earns 13th straight UEC title, focuses on sectional

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By Neil Shalin
Daily Herald Correspondent

Neuqua Valley won its 13th straight conference girls tennis championship, but the Wildcats still have some heavy lifting to do if they are to fulfill their goals for this season.

The past two years Neuqua has won the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division but failed to qualify a single player for the state tournament.

This weekend the Wildcats are again in the tough Naperville North sectional where they hope to break the two-year drought.

"No matter how many years you win the conference or division title its always exciting," said Neuqua Valley coach Trudy Bennorth. "We never take it for granted because our rivals Waubonsie Valley and Metea Valley are getting stronger and stronger. This year we had great depth. All year we were mixing up the partnerships and we had to sit three good players. That was always a tough decision."

Bennorth said that singles player Anusha Pai and doubles Taylor Hershey and Riti Vohra are potential state qualifiers.

"I'd love to see them both make it because they've had really good seasons," Bennorth said. "But that sectional is still strong so we'll be happy to qualify anyone.

"If Hershey and Vohra come out hot at sectionals, they'll be tough to beat. Anusha has advanced so much. She has a better all-around game this year and she's really improved her volleys."

"I worked hard playing tournaments in the off-season," Pai said. "I'm more confident and my mental game is much stronger. Everyone on our sectional team will do our best this weekend and we'll see what happens."

One finals match and a bunch of consolation matches still in progress were postponed by Saturday's rain and again Tuesday. They're scheduled to be played Wednesday.

The Wildcats won four of the six completed finals and had enough points with the season and tournament records combined to be declared tournament and division champions.

The only championship still to be determined is the third doubles contest that pits Neuqua's Hope Nguyen and Katie Beshilas against Waubonsie Valley's Ignaicia Caviedes and Anjeli Mannam.

The Wildcats' Pai defeated Waubonsie Valley's Amanda Glavin at first singles and Jessica Chen topped Waubonsie's Susanna Rantanen at second singles.

Third singles went into the Waubonsie column as the Warriors' Deepika Khanna defeated Neuqua's Jackie Scarvetta 6-1, 6-1.

"After a really good summer of hitting, Deepika has been very steady this year," said Waubonsie Valley coach Phil Galow. "Her conference tournament wins followed her winning pattern of finishing in a short period of time. When she wins she takes care of business in a hurry."

The only doubles final the Wildcats lost thus far was at first doubles where Jen Gates and Gabby Gregario of Bartlett topped Neuqua's Hershey and Vohra, 6-4, 6-1.

The Wildcats took the second doubles crown as Jenn Cha and Shruthi Sethuraman outdueled Metea Valley's Emily Dixon and Molly Heinz, and fourth doubles also went to Neuqua thanks to Kylie Harnen and Caroline Wang topping Waubonsie Valley's Abigail Glavin and Martha Motoyama.

When the final numbers are tallied, Waubonsie Valley will finish second in the UEC and Metea Valley will be third.

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