Boys tennis / Sectional scouting
at Glenbrook South When: 2:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday
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Cast: Conant, Elk Grove, Fremd, Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South, Hoffman Esates, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg.
Who to watch: Singles -- Mack Galvin (Rolling Meadows, 31-3), Eric Pohl (Fremd, 16-8), Dillon Early (Schaumburg), Prithi Ramesh (Rolling Meadows, 18-15), Mark Wu (Glenbrook North, 18-9), Will Sauser (Glenbrook North, 19-7). Doubles -- Conant (Connor Sacks-Matt Meyers, 5-0), Fremd (David Oh-Kiran Devaraj), Glenbrook North (Miguel Perez-David Zakhodin, 20-4), Glenbrook North (Nick Marino-David Shekman, 15-3), Glenbrook South (Michael Baddeloo-Sebastion DesRoberts).
Baseline banter: The story out of this sectional is the expected move of Connor Sacks from singles as he joins teammate Matt Meyers in a bid for a third state tournament appearance. The Cougars senior went 18-5 at singles this spring, but partnered with Meyers to win a title at the Lake Park Invite to compile a 5-0 doubles record. "Matt is a very good player, and we play well together, even though it was just for a couple of times this year. It's all about maximizing your chances in order to play in the tournament, and I feel we can do that at doubles," says Sacks, who has won four matches at state in two previous appearances.
His friend Eric Pohl has recorded 5 state victories with two different playing partners, and the four-year standout, along with two-time MSL champ Mack Galvin, have the one-two singles punch from Glenbrook North (Wu-Sauser) to contend with over the next two days. "Wu and Sauser are very good players, but I am looking forward to playing against them," said Galvin. "This is the time of the year when you have to bring up your level of play in order to compete with great players like them."
In doubles, there can no doubting who's the clear No. 1 with the top team from GBN (Perez-Zakhodin) poised and ready to make a long, serious run in the state tournament next weekend. The Spartans duo held its 3-4 seed at the Pitchford last month, and will be a sold choice for a top eight state seed. Jeff Jordans' No. 2 team (Marino-Shekman) took Pitchford champ Hinsdale Central (Czlonka-Bruning) to three sets, and have been on the upswing ever since. Baddeloo was a state qualifier at doubles with 28 victories last spring, so the Titans captain knows what it takes this time of the season.
at Highland ParkWhen: 1 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday
Cast: Buffalo Grove, Deerfield, Hersey, Highland Park, Palatine, Prospect, St. Viator, Wheeling.
Who to watch: Singles -- Carson Burke (Prospect, 16-13), Alan Fijalkowski (Buffalo Grove, 16-9), Jacob Nottoli (St. Viator), Noah Rosenblatt (Deerfield, 23-8), Jacob Edelchik (Highland Park, 17-7), Nick Zazove (Highland Park, 14-7). Doubles -- Buffalo Grove (Peter Georgiades-Anton Levitin, 24-3), Prospect (Ralph Tenuta-Sam Tambeaux, 19-10), Palatine (Leo Moslemian-David Chon, 13-9), Highland Park (Max Gordon-David Aizenberg, 15-7), Deerfield (Chris Casati-Niko Wasilewicz, 22-8), Highland Park (Eli Schneider-Teddy Dunn, 17-9).
Baseline banter: The Buffalo Grove doubles team of Peter Georgiades-Anton Levitin lived up to its billing last weekend at the MSL tournament by coming away with the conference title at No. 1 doubles, to send the duo into Highland Park with the confidence needed to compete against the host Giants, Deerfield's No. 1, and MSL rival Prospect for a chance at a second consecutive state tournament bid. "Two of our three losses this season were to teams that could be 3-4 seeds next week (Lake Forest, Glenbrook North), with our loss to GBN in three sets, so we feel we're capable of playing at that level this coming weekend, then next week should we advance," Goergiades said prior to a straight-set victory over Fremd in the MSL final. The Bison will need to get off in attacking mode right from the start in order to send a message to the terrific teams from HP and Deerfield. The Warriors' long, hard-hitting Wasilewicz and his sure-handed partner Casati have been coming on of late, with third-place medals at both the Pitchford and Deerfield 8-team invite showing they can be a dynamic duo in the postseason. The same goes for the host Giants' Gordon/Aizenberg tandem, which beat Glenbrook North at the CSL North tournament last Saturday. Both Fijalkowski and Burke likely will vie for the fourth and final spot, with the CSL North champ Rosenblatt, the CSL North champ and Ben VanDixhorn's hitting partner, the one to beat in the field. Rosenblatt is 3-0 against Edelchik, including a straight-set win in the conference finals, and enters this tournament with a record of 9-1 in his last 10 matches. "The great thing about Alan is he really doesn't know any of his opponents, because he's been in this country for such a short time, and he doesn't concern himself with wins or losses. But he's always ready to play and is quite capable of beating just about anybody if he plays his game," says Bison coach Michael Naughton. Palatine's No. 1 team (Moslemian-Chon) will look to become the first since 2009 (Rafael Robles-Mikey Wolff) to advance.
at Oak Park-River ForestWhen: 2:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday
Cast: Elmwood Park, Fenwick, Leyden, Maine South, Maine West, OPRF, Proviso East, St. Pat's, Taft
Baseline banter: The host Huskies are not quite as formidable as they've been during the last five or six seasons, but with that said, they are still the overwhelming favorites to advance a full team into the final week of the season. Kyle Hahn has taken on the role of No. 1, and has had mixed results in that position. The Huskies have had a few different looks at doubles, but the one constant has been a combination of Miles Blim and Jonah Philion, each of whom were state qualifiers last spring. It was at this same venue in 2013 that coach Derrick Swistak celebrated the success of his Maine West team of Dominick Budzik and George Stoitzev, who qualified into the tournament following their fourth-place finish here. Can Swistak conjure up another memorable weekend? "If anyone can do it, my two guys can -- just as long as they come out and hit their serves, and play strong and tight from the very beginning of the tournament," Swistak said of this year's standouts, Patrick Czuj and Henry Nguyen. "They had a tough go of it at our conference tournament, as did the rest of the team, but they are very capable of coming out and playing the type of tennis they need to in order to get to the state tournament." Despite an up and down season, Swistak remained upbeat thanks in part to the improvement of the Czuj-Nguyen team as well as the likes of Jackson Torkelson and Jaime Capetillo. "It's been tough on a team in a conference like ours which is so deep and talented, but they guys have battled and worked so hard, and it's been a terrific group to be around all season long," Swistak said. "And with us losing just one senior and having seven juniors coming back, we feel like the arrow is pointing up for Warriors tennis."
at StevensonWhen: 2 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday
Cast: Barrington, Carmel, Lake Zurich, Libertyville, Mundelein, Stevenson, Vernon Hills, Wauconda.
Who to watch: Singles -- Ben VanDixhorn (Libertyville), Stefano Tsorotiotis (Libertyville), Kevin Hunt (Carmel), Benjamin Bush (Stevenson), Brian Weisberg (Stevenson). Doubles -- Stevenson (Colin Harvey-Adam Komarov, 19-3), Stevenson (Matt Harvey-Adam Maryniuk, 15-3), Barrington (Ishaan Jaglin-Scott Apmann, 7-5), Carmel (Michael Hendricks-Michael Butler), Libertyville (Scott Daluga-Julian Janczak), Vernon Hills (David Dobrik-Nikita Lunkov, 23-4), Barrington (Matt Milligan-Vijay Tripuraneni, 21-8).
Baseline banter: The powerful Libertyville duo of VanDixhorn and Tsorotiotis, along with Harvey-Komarov from Stevenson, have set the bar far high for the others here. But in this talent-rich sectional, there are many here who can get close enough in order to stay alive long enough to play during the last weekend of the season. Although together on just a few occasions this spring, Ishann Jaglin-Scott Apmann of Barrington have made the most of their seven victories thus far, including a win over Libertyville and the previously mentioned No. 1 from Glenbrook North. "Those two wins were big for the boys, and despite having 5 losses, all are to state qualifiers from Highland Park, OPRF, Belleville West and twice to Lyons Township. So they can play with quality teams," said Barrington coach John Roncone, who believes his No. 2 team, which captured a MSL crown, and a sixth-place finish at the Pitchford, can be in the mix at the end. The host Patriots have a fine team in Matt Harvey-Adam Maryniuk, who two years ago qualified as a freshman with Dennis Kontorovich and went 2-2. And the Patriots' singles players are considered the favorites to fall in behind Libertyville's standouts. Bush advanced to state as a freshman last year in a 21-win season. Carmel's Kevin Hunt finished third last weekend at the ESCC tournament, while his teammates Michael Hendricks-Michael Butler captured a second place ESCC trophy. Two players enjoyed success last season at the state tournament, while receiving valuable experience under the microscope. Scott Daluga (Libertyville) went into the sixth round of the consolation bracket with Jack Springgate before bowing out in straight-sets to Lake Forest (Baghari-O'Kelly), while Vernon Hills senior David Dobrik and standout teammate Ismail Kadyrov (now playing at the University of Detroit) took eventual state champions Hinsdale Central (Eddie Grabill-Harold) to three sets on the first day of the tournament.
-- Mike Garofola