That Hinsdale Central won yet another team championship at the Benet-Downers Grove South Invite is hardly big news.
After all, the Red Devils are the consensus top team in the state, an overwhelming favorite to win their third consecutive state title in late May.
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What is news is that defending singles champ Martin Joyce could be joining his best friend and teammate Chase Hamilton in a bid for a double state title.
Joyce, Hamilton and their teammates swept all three of their matches on Saturday as Hinsdale Central captured team honors over runner-up New Trier, also a state power.
Joyce and Hamilton looked in peak form during their straight-sets victory over the Trevians tandem of Scott and Tom Bickel.
Deerfield edged tourney co-host Downers Grove South 3-2 to earn third-place, while Naperville North defeated Barrington 3-2 for fifth place. Benet's 3-2 win over central Illinois power Moline gave the Redwings a seventh-place finish.
Joyce, who last season posted a three-set win over Eric Marbach (Waubonsie Valley) in the finals, admitted he and Hamilton had given serious thought to making the switch to doubles, with budding stars Michael Lorenzini and Eddie Grabill possibly handling the chores at singles.
Or Grabill staying at doubles, where last spring, he and Harold Martin won it all.
"There's a good chance Chase and I play together, and wouldn't it be great to win a state title at doubles while helping the team to another title as well?" said Joyce, who recently committed to play at No. 1-ranked Ohio State and had his serve clocked at 122 mph at a charity event last week.
The Red Devils rolled over Moline in their opener, and then handled Deerfield. New Trier defeated Benet before sending Downers Grove South to its first defeat with a 4-1 decision.
"We have young players at doubles, but in time they will come around and add even more strength to our lineup when it really counts," said the Mustangs' top player, Tony Leto, who lost to New Trier's Alex Galoustian, then Deerfield's Noah Rosenblatt in a hard-fought super-tiebreaker in the final match of the third-place contest.
Galoustian later defeated Lorenzini 10-5 in a super tie-breaker to give the Trevians an important win for Pitchford and state tournament seeding at No. 1 singles.
Leto, who went 3-2 last year at the state tournament, bowed out in three sets to Brice Polender (Lake Forest). He's upbeat about his individual and team prospects after a solid off-season which included training alongside Joyce, Lorenzini and others at the Score Tennis Club.
"I've really worked hard at the mental side of the game, plus trying to eat as healthy as I can at the same time, which should work hand-in-hand for better tennis and results," Let said.
Christian San Andres, a state doubles qualifier a year ago who New Trier coach Tad Eckert calls one of the best No. 2 singles players in the state, went 3-0 on the day for the Mustangs.
The Mustangs begin a busy week of competition, starting with a West Suburban Gold dual at home with Hinsdale South, followed by a trip to DVC big shot, Naperville Central the next day.
Naperville North, without its No. 1 player Benny Li, still went 2-1 following its 3-2 win over Barrington. The Huskies used a victory at No. 1 doubles from Scott Apmann and Vijay Tripuraneni to outlast Benet 3-2 and to earn its place in the fifth-place match at McCollum Park.
Coach Heather Henricksen's club is on the road this Thursday at Glenbard North before hosting its own invite Saturday.
Junior Ishaan Jaglan, who took over the role as Barrington's No. 1 following the graduation of four-year standout Varun Parekh, lost a close one to Benet's top player, Noah Reed.
"It was a match I should have won, but I left a lot of points out there today, and wasn't as sharp as I could have been when I needed to be," said Jaglan, who was fourth at No. 2 singles last year at the Mid-Suburban League tournament. "Varun is my good friend, and I watched how he handled being No. 1, and what it took to play against one top player after another. So I think I know what to expect, but it's still a real demanding position to be in, that's for sure."
The Broncos will open play in the MSL at reigning East champ Rolling Meadows on Tuesday before hosting Buffalo Grove on Thursday.
"We're seeing some improvements here and there, but this team, which has seven juniors and one freshman, is going to learn and take its lumps on the weekends when we play one top team after another," said Broncos coach John Roncone.
Benet senior Noah Reed is finding his new role as his club's No. 1 as difficult as his counterpart Jaglan during the early going as well.
Reed and Grant Gatto were the ESCC champs last season, and followed that with a regional title to earn themselves a 17-32 state seed. They won three times at state before bowing out in the fifth round of the back draw.
"Last year I would lean on Grant a lot when I needed to, and it would have been great to have him around one more year," admitted the affable lefty, who is hoping to join his sister at St. Louis University next fall, where he would continue playing. "It's a big culture change going from doubles to singles, but I'll do the best that I can to help a team which is very young and inexperienced but should be much better at the end."
Read and his teammates have conference rivals Marist and Joilet Catholic up next during the upcoming week.