Doubly rewarding title for Stevenson's Kiven, Kirsch
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The close friendship between Alexxis Kiven and Kendall Kirsch extends to their families.
But it wasn't until two years ago that it carried over to the tennis court for Stevenson.
"Coach (Tom Stanhope) threw us together because he wanted to have a strong doubles team against them," Kiven said of a tournament with New Trier. "We won pretty badly and coach said, 'Maybe this will work.' We made it work."
There was no doubt about how well it worked Saturday afternoon at the girls state tournament at Buffalo Grove. The top-seeded Kiven and Kirsch (33-1) became state doubles champions with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over second-seeded Tess Trinka and Taylor Arends.
"To end my senior year on a good note is an awesome feeling," said the Dartmouth-bound Kiven.
"It's a great feeling," said Kirsch, who is a junior. "We've been looking forward to this as long as I can remember and it's her senior year, so it meant a lot. We're both kind of in shock a little bit."
Stevenson's bid for a fourth state trophy and second in three years fell just short with 36 points as defending champion Lake Forest and Hinsdale Central shared the title with 39 and New Trier was third with 38. Naperville Central sophomore Tiffany Chen won the singles title 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) over Hinsdale Central freshman Isabella Lorenzini.
Kiven and Kirsch, who took third two years ago, joined Suzy Jaeger (1976-78), Andrea Jaeger (1979) and Denise Muresan (2005) as Stevenson girls state champions. Kiven and Kirsch reached the final with a 6-3, 6-1 semifinal win over New Trier's 9-16 seed of Cammy Frei and Lily Schroeder.
"The pressure didn't get to them and they played through it and played well," Stanhope said. "They didn't look like a team in their first state championship. They looked like a team that had been there before."
They did finish third two years ago but Kirsch missed almost all of last season with breathing problems caused by the inflammation of joints in her upper body. They were back together and better than ever after Kiven took fourth with Kaylin Dong last year.
Trinka and Arends cut a 4-1 deficit to 5-4 in the first set and got within 3-2 in the second set after a spectacular dig near the net.
"It could have swung the other direction," Stanhope said.
But Kiven and Kirsch weren't fazed after surviving a three-set round of 16 scare on Friday. They were in perfect sync, as they finished with a flourish of stellar shots and hugged in celebration after Kirsch's backhand hit the net and dropped over where it couldn't be returned.
"We wanted to win more than anything," Kiven said of their third win over Trinka and Arends.
"We've talked about it for so long and been looking forward to it for so long," Kirsch said. "It's amazing to win it."
The Patriots' Dong and Michelle Tulchinskaya in doubles, and Zoe Manion in singles, lost in their consolation quarterfinals Saturday. Vinaya Rao also finished better than expected with her draw.
"I though as a whole the team played as well as they could," Stanhope said. "We did everything we could."
Hinsdale Central added to its state records for titles with 14 and top-three trophies with 29 while Lake Forest won its fifth title and 12th trophy. The only other shared crown was in 1986 between Oak Park-River Forest and New Trier.
Victoria Falk and Colleen Morris finished third in doubles and Elizabeth Zordani took fifth in singles for the Scouts.
Warren finished seventh in the team standings with 21 points. Barrington sophomore Michelle Linden lost her consolation bracket quarterfinal Saturday.
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