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updated: 10/17/2013 9:33 PM

Rivals reconvene in sectional tests

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By Marty Maciaszek
Daily Herald Correspondent

Warren's Karyna Bihel and Alex Mella didn't have to wait long to see Lake Forest's Elizabeth and Christina Zordani after last weekend's meetings for North Suburban Conference girls tennis singles titles.

Whether Bihel and Mella actually see the same Zordani again in head-to-head matches depends on what happens in this weekend's Antioch sectional. The first two rounds of play start at 2 p.m. today with Bihel and Mella as 3-4 seeds and the Zordanis as the top two seeds.

The quarterfinals begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Lakes to determine the four singles and doubles qualifiers to the Oct. 24-26 state tournament. They will be followed by the semifinals and title and third-place matches.

Bihel lost in three sets at No. 1 to Elizabeth Zordani, and Mella lost in two sets to Christina Zordani at No. 2 in the NSC tourney. If seeds hold, the semifinal matches would flip, with Mella facing Elizabeth and Bihel playing Christina.

Bihel (25-5) got a big confidence boost last week when she took a 2-1 third-set lead on Elizabeth Zordani before falling 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Zordani finished fifth at the state tourney last year as Lake Forest won its second team title in three years.

"I feel I've played really well this season," said Bihel, who went 4-2 last year at state as a freshman. "I trained really hard over the summer so I could do better this year.

"I feel so much better (after last Saturday). I feel like I can definitely get into state now and maybe do even better."

Mella (28-2) looks to continue the second-set improvement she showed in her 6-0, 6-3 loss to Christina Zordani.

"I'm hoping to do better in the sectionals because it wasn't really my very best game (last Saturday)," Mella said. "It definitely got me prepared for sectionals. It was definitely a good experience."

Earning 5-6 singles seeds were Grayslake Central sophomore Nikki Tatsuguchi and Lakes senior Stephanie Lass.

Lake Forest also got the top two doubles seeds with its duos of Catherine Orfanos-Margaux Miller and Victoria Falk-Colleen Morris. Warren's duos of Mikayla Schultz-Lauren Vrabel and Max Mella-Courtney Sunday got 3-4 seeds and 5-6 seeds went to Antioch's Missy Donovan-Sara Petty and Grayslake Central's Alexa Schneider-Brenda Zador.

Patriots' double-double: Stevenson could have its doubles teams playing for the title in its sectional if Alexxis Kiven and Kendall Kirsch (22-1) and Kaylin Dong and Michelle Tulchinskaya (22-0) can hold their respective 1-2 seeds.

Kiven and Dong took third in state last year when Kirsch was injured. Kiven and Kirsch finished third in the state two years ago.

"We know each other's games so well," Kirsch said after their NSC No. 1 title victory.

"Confident, really confident," Kiven said of how they feel going into the final two weeks of the season. "We can read each other's mind on the court and we know where we're going all the time."

But their teammates, Dong and Tulchinskaya, also have plenty of confidence after winning the NSC No. 2 title. Tulchinskaya said they have been really good friends and hoped to play together this year.

"We've fought really hard to get our undefeated record and we want to keep it," Tulchinskaya said.

"I feel we're playing the way we're capable of, and to be completely honest, I'm not that surprised," Dong said of their unbeaten record. "We're looking to go pretty far in state and looking to keep it going."

In Kirsch and Kiven's half of the bracket is 3-4 seed Rachel Jacoby and Melissa Roshass, who are trying to become the first state qualifiers in Vernon Hills history after taking third in the NSC at No. 1, Madeline Wagner and Aleksandra Grabowski of Libertyville at a 5-6 seed and East Suburban Catholic Conference No. 2 champions Megan Sullivan and Sarah Bowles.

Dong and Tulchinskaya have the 3-4 seed of Carmel seniors and ESCC No. 1 champs Michelle Kannenberg and Kathleen Felicelli (26-2) in their half of the bracket. Kannenberg and Felicelli were 2-1 at state two years ago before missing last season because of injury. Mundelein seniors Sara Jump and Kelly McCauley got a 5-6 seed.

The top two singles seeds went to Stevenson junior Zoe Manion (20-3) and Grant freshman Gaby Schoenberg (25-2). Manion beat Schoenberg in the NSC No. 1 third-place singles match.

Libertyville junior Halle Roach and Stevenson sophomore Vinaya Rao, both returning state qualifiers, are 3-4 seeds. Carmel junior Christina Rao and McHenry senior Brittany Goebel are 5-6 seeds.

Stevenson will be going for its third straight sectional title when play starts at 1 p.m. today with the first three rounds at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex and Vernon Hills High School courts. Semifinals start at 9 a.m. Saturday at the VHAC courts, followed by the title and third-place matches.

Bears head south: Lake Zurich is at the Lake Park sectional, which includes Mid-Suburban League power Barrington.

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