Bartlett seniors Gabriella Gregorio and Jennifer Gates knew the degree of difficulty was going to increase significantly after they lost only 3 games in their first two matches in Thursday's opening day of the girls state tennis tournament.
Their third-round opponent at Prospect High School was the 9-16 seed of Catherine Orfanos and Margaux Miller from defending state champion and perennial power Lake Forest. But Gregorio and Gates were ready to provide a tough test, and the four-year state tourney veterans and 17-32 seed did exactly that before falling 7-6 (7-5), 6-3.
"We knew coming into this match they would be a really tough team to try to beat," said Gregorio, who was making her fourth state doubles trip with a different playing partner. "We tried to do our best but they came out on top.
"I felt pretty good about how we were playing but I don't think we had as much energy (in the second set) as they did. They had the energy from winning the first set and that made them more active."
Gregorio and Gates (25-2) did lead in the tiebreaker and 3-2 in the second set. Now they'll face the 17-32 seed of Normal Community's Jessica Burns and Abby Kosharek in Friday's fourth-round consolation bracket match at 8 a.m. at Prospect.
"We played well for awhile, but they kind of completely took over in the second set and didn't handle it as well as we could have," said Gates, who had been to state the previous three years in singles. "We lost it (in the tiebreaker) and didn't take control like we should have."
Gregorio and Gates said Orfanos and Miller were the toughest team they had faced all year. Bartlett first-year coach Kari Klein and assistant Sue Hannula thought Lake Forest's doubles experience was evident in the way they poached at the net.
"They were highly aggressive," Klein said.
"In the first set it looked like they were down and out but they found a way to come back," Hannula said of the Bartlett duo. "I had a good feeling and thought they could pull it out. But the other team, you can tell they played doubles for a long time."
Gates and Gregorio opened the tourney by beating Miya Coleman and Victoria Lancaster of Chicago Latin 6-0, 6-2 and Olivia Scaturro and Maddie Swiecicki of Collinsville 6-0, 6-1.
"In the first two matches we took total control of them," Gregorio said.
"We played really well the first two matches," Gates said. "In the third one, I don't know if it was nerves or what, but we started to back off a little bit."
But Klein and Hannula believe Gregorio and Gates can stay alive for awhile in the backdraw based on their play Thursday.
"They have confidence and they know they can play with these types of teams," Hannula said. "I think that will help them (Friday)."
Crystal Lake South has Julia Thome in singles and Kelsey Laktash and Rachel Rasmussen in doubles still alive in the backdraw. Laktash and Rasmussen won their first two matches before losing in straight sets in the third round.
Jacobs' Ashley Kosy and Hampshire's Hannah Hougland won first-round matches but were eliminated in the consolation third round. Elgin's Dahlia Keonavongsa won her first match, but lost to top-seeded Alex Chatt of Lyons and then was eliminated in the consolation second round.
Hampshire's Monica Patthana and Julie Schreiner won their first doubles match in three sets but were also eliminated in the consolation second round.