Stevenson's Alexxis Kiven and Kendall Kirsch received an early Friday morning wakeup call when they lost their first set in their round of 16 championship bracket doubles match in the girls state tennis tournament to Lake Forest's Catherine Orfanos and Margaux Miller.
But Kiven and Kirsch (31-1) weren't alarmed. The top-seeded duo quickly responded for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory and then took care of Homewood-Flossmoor's Timara Maxwell and Sophia Osabuohien 6-3, 6-0 in the afternoon quarterfinals at Buffalo Grove.
They also kept Stevenson in the trophy hunt in fourth place (32 points) as Zoe Manion and the doubles team of Kaylin Dong and Michelle Tulchinskaya are still alive in the backdraw after suffering round of 16 losses. New Trier (37) leads defending state champion Lake Forest (35) and Hinsdale Central (33).
"We can't control what other teams are doing because we're not going to get any help from other teams," said Stevenson coach Tom Stanhope. "It's all about the backdraw. We've talked about really scrapping in the backdraw and playing for the team."
Kiven and Kirsch will play a doubles team they beat earlier this year in New Trier's Cammy Frei and Lily Schroeder in the semifinals at 9 a.m. today at BG. Kiven and Kirsch were third two years ago and Kiven and Dong took fourth last year.
But Kiven and Kirsch faced an early challenge Friday from a familiar rival in Lake Forest but an unfamiliar pairing in Orfanos and Miller.
"Lake Forest played really well and in the first set we didn't play well," Stanhope said. "Lake Forest was virtually unbeatable, but what we took from that was it was still 6-4 in the first set. They played a little better in the second set and in the third set they had a little more positive energy."
It carried over into their quarterfinal as Kiven and Kirsch took command from the start and suffered only a brief lull late in the first set.
"They lost focus a little bit, but they regained it in the second set," Stanhope said.
Dong and Tulchinskaya (30-2) rebounded from a round of 16 loss to second-seeded Taylor Arends and Tess Trinka of Oak Park-River Forest. The Stevenson juniors beat Carmel's Michelle Kannenberg and Kathleen Felicelli and Edwardsville's Mallory Albert and Megan LaRose to set up today's 8 a.m. consolation quarterfinal with 3-4 seed Danielle Burich and Erika Oku of Hinsdale Central.
Manion (29-4) lost in the round of 16 to second-seed Tiffany Chen of Naperville Central but came back to beat Angelina Ye of Sycamore and Warren sophomore Karyna Bihel 7-5, 6-0. Manion faces Lake Forest's Elizabeth Zordani in today's consolation quarterfinals.
And Vinaya Rao helped Stevenson by winning her first Friday backdraw match before losing 6-0, 6-0 to Warren's Alex Mella.
Bihel (31-8) didn't bow out easily from the championship bracket round of 16 for the second straight year. Bihel, the 9-16 seed, lost 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) to Nazareth senior and 5-8 seed Lexie Petrovic at Hersey.
Bihel overcame a 5-3 deficit to lead the second set 6-5 but Petrovic forced a tiebreaker where she scored the final 6 points to close out the match.
"I wasn't going to just give it to her, I was going to fight for every point and make her work for the win," Bihel said. "I thought I played well and fought really hard and the most important thing was I didn't give up.
"I tried really hard and tried my best and if that's not good enough, then I'll have to train harder to get better."
Bihel won her first backdraw match against Kayleigh Porter of Homewood-Flossmoor before losing to Manion. Petrovic lost her quarterfinal match to second-seed Tiffany Chen of Naperville Central 6-3, 6-0.
"I wish this match (with Petrovic) went in my favor," said Bihel, who lost to New Trier's Carol Finke 6-1, 6-0 in last year's round of 16. "I'll learn from this loss and get better and come back next year and hopefully get farther."
Warren junior Alex Mella won two backdraw matches before falling in three sets to New Trier's Taylor Tamblyn. Max Mella and Courtney Sunday also won twice in the backdraw before losing to Orfanos and Miller and Mikayla Schultz and Lauren Vrabel lost their fourth-round consolation match.
Kannenberg and Felicelli had won their first two backdraw matches Friday in straight sets before having their stellar four-year pairing at Carmel come to an end. Grant freshman Gaby Schoenberg (31-5), the first singles qualifier from her school in 15 years, lost her fourth-round consolation match 6-3, 6-2 to Glenbrook North's Madeline Kahn.