Naperville Central exceeds expectations
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Naperville Central girls tennis coach Don Bonet expected big things from this year's Redhawks, but Saturday's sectional results made it official that the season worked out even better than the coach could have imagined.
The Redhawks won the Naperville North sectional title by taking home the championships at both singles and doubles.
Sophomore Tiffany Chen won the singles title, and the doubles team of Cindy Liu and Cass Goldner took the doubles crown with a win in the finals over their teammates Meaghan Bedigian and Sara Furukawa.
"It's sometimes tough when you come in with high expectations," Bonet said. "The girls played great all year and they were living it one match at a time. Getting three entries to state was the key to us winning the sectional. It was the first time in 20 years we had three (two doubles and a single) qualify for state."
The Redhawks finished the tournament with 32 points, while Benet and Neuqua Valley, which both produced two qualifiers, tied for second with 21 points. Naperville North and St. Francis tied for fourth with 12 each.
Chen, who finished fourth at state last year, defeated Benet's Leah Tzakis 6-1, 6-3 for the singles title.
"Tiffany has been phenomenal all year," Bonet said. "She was great at conference and at sectionals and, hopefully, she's peaking for state next week."
Benet's Coco Tzakis, Leah's sister, took third place with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Anusha Pai of Neuqua Valley.
In the all-Naperville Central doubles final match Goldner and Liu defeated Furukawa and Bedigian 6-0, 6-2.
"We work well as a team," Liu said. "I'm at the baseline and Cass is great at the net. We balance each other out.
"I love playing doubles with Cindy," Goldner said. "Because I do my best work at poaching at the net and she is incredible at setting me up."
"While I was playing in the semifinals," Bedigian said. "I thought about playing against Cass and Cindy and how much fun it would be. Our entire team had high goals this season and we really worked toward them."
In the third-place doubles match Taylor Hershey and Riti Vohra of Neuqua Valley topped Julia Li and Jessica Hu of Naperville North 6-3, 7-5.
Liu and Furukawa both commented on the Redhawks impressive achievements for the year.
"Our team is the strongest it's ever been," Liu said. "I don't think we've ever had both doubles teams in the finals. We won sectionals last year, but this is even better."
"Our team is amazing," Furukawa said. "We knew we would be good but never imagined it would go like this in conference and in sectionals."
Everyone who played in Saturday's sectional semifinals and finals, four singles players and four doubles teams, qualified for the state tournament, which will be held next Thursday, Friday and Saturday at various sites in the northwest suburbs.
For Neuqua Valley, qualifying a singles player and a doubles team for state was a triumph, because the Wildcats hadn't produce a state qualifier in the two previous campaigns.
Benet, which has a long line of tennis families in its history, had in Leah and Coco Tzakis siblings who qualified for the state tournament in the same season for only the second time.
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