Top teams: Hinsdale Central, Downers Grove South, Naperville Central, Naperville North, Benet, Neuqua Valley,
Top players: Benet: Noah Read, sr.; Riley Marshall, so.; Stephen Kovach, jr.; Downers Grove North: Mantas Kisielius, sr.; Chandler Downs, sr.; Downers Grove South: Tony Leto, jr.; Christian San Andres, so.; Zach Wood, so.; Lawrence Hiquiana, fr.; Ryan McMillan, sr.; Fenton: Erwin Lavric, jr.; Daniel Franchi, sr.; Glenbard South: Brendan Colgan, jr.; Glenbard West: Nate Dell, so.; Steven Hanna, jr.; Matt Lipnica, jr.; Hinsdale Central: Chase Hamilton, sr.; Martin Joyce, jr.; Michael Lorenzini, jr.; Eddie Grabill, jr.; Lake Park: Jack Millikan, sr.; Piotr Lada, so.; Metea Valley: Kyle Chin, jr.; Naperville Central: Wesley Lo, sr.; Justin Gillette, sr.; Daniel Delgrosso, sr.; Kevin Wang, sr.; Bill Zhang, fr.; Naperville North: Rahul Agarwal, sr.; Eric Swan, sr.; Rohit Rastogi, jr.; Benny Li, sr.; Kirk Williams, fr.; Neuqua Valley: Amit Iyer, jr.; Brett Meyers, so.; Colton Lubergh, sr.; Jackson Keating, fr.; St. Francis: Chris Chacko, jr.; Matt Armbrust, sr.; Timothy Christian: Riley DeHaan, sr.; Waubonsie Valley: Suveer Kothari, fr.; Wheaton Academy: Alex Renn, sr.; Wheaton Warrenville South: Charlie McDonough, so,; Zach Orlove, jr.; Connor Foley, sr.; York: Alex Riddle, jr.; Brendan Peterson, jr.; Jake Shostak, jr.
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Outlook: In recent years the two Napervilles have battled down to the wire for DuPage Valley Conference and city bragging rights. This year should bring more of the same, with out-of-towner Wheaton Warrenville South possibly thrown into the mix. The Redhawks, who finished ninth at state last year, are looking at another top 10 year with Lo, a three-time state doubles qualifier and top 24 finisher, leading the way. The duo of Delgrosso and Gillette placed in the top 32 and qualifier Wang also returns. Add nationally ranked freshman Zhang and prospects look good for the postseason and for conference if the lower part of the lineup settles in. "Our first goal is to win conference," said Redhawks coach Dan Brown. "And we need a few seniors and juniors in the lower part of the lineup to repeat as DVC champions."
Naperville North comes in with a pair of outstanding doubles teams with conference champions Agarwal and Swan joining state qualifier Rastogi and promising freshman Williams. Qualifier Li and several other strong veteran singles players make the Huskies formidable throughout the lineup. "These guys are hard workers," Huskies coach Heather Henricksen said. "We're consistent, and this is one of the better-serving teams we've had. We're ready to give Central a run for their money."
Wheaton Warrenville South's McDonough had a great freshman year. "Charlie has great speed and he's competitive," coach Patti Clousing said. "And he has a lot of weapons to choose from." A lot will depend on the how several younger players develop for the Tigers.
Despite losing a lot of talent, Neuqua Valley, eighth in state last year, still has plenty remaining to continue its domination of the Upstate Eight Conference. "We still have to figure out some of our lower positions," said Wildcats coach Trudy Bennorth, "but we have some good experienced players and some promising people moving up from a conference-winning JV team." The Wildcats are led by Iyer, a returning state qualifier. Waubonsie Valley, which has a fine freshman in Kothari, and Metea Valley, with a potential state qualifier in Chin, should fight it out for second.
Benet has a typical Redwings team with some outstanding players such as Read and Kovatch, and a vastly improved Marshall at the top of the lineup. USTA-ranked freshman Patrick McGuigan could make an immediate impact. "We're not as deep as we've been in the past, but this will be a good team by the end of the season," said Redwings coach Michael Hand. "We've loaded up our schedule to prepare us for conference and sectionals."
Hinsdale Central won its fifth state title in seven years with a near-perfect tournament, earning 59 points out of a possible 60. Joyce is the reigning singles champ, while Grabill was half of the state champion doubles team. Lorenzini and Hamilton are also top-flight players. And, as usual, the Red Devils are deep with many players who could be at the top of the lineup for a lot of schools. "Our goal is the state title. We have no other goals," coach John Naisbitt said.
Glenbard West, York and Downers Grove North will all field strong teams this year, but the dominance of Hinsdale Central relegates them to also-ran status in the West Suburban Silver. Dell of Glenbard West, Peterson of York and Kisielius of Downers Grove North are standouts.
Downers Grove South is loaded this year. Top players include Leto, who placed 17-24 last year at state in doubles, and soph San Andres. Coach Peter Freischlag believes both can finish in the top 16. Hiquiana is the best freshman he's ever seen on the doubles court. The Mustangs' goal is to finish top five. Glenbard South won the Metro Suburban Prairie Conference, and the Raiders hope to repeat with Colgan at first singles. This is a young team that should be playing its best tennis at the end of the season. Timothy Christian, with DeHaan, and Fenton, with a pair of fine players in Lavric and Franchi, should challenge.
St. Francis has better depth than last year when it won the Suburban Christian Conference. Wheaton Academy has the talent and numbers to challenge in dual meets and a fine player in Renn at the top of the lineup.
Key dates: April 4: Naperville North at Glenbard West; April 16: Downers Grove South at Naperville Central; April 19: Glenbard West Hilltopper Tournament; Naperville North Invitational; April 26: Downers Grove South Team Invite; May 8: Naperville North at Naperville Central; May 10: Naper Valley Tournament; May 17 Conference tournaments; May 23-24: Sectionals; May 29-June 1: State tournament.
-- Neil Shalin