St. Charles North's Aaron Amburgey and Grant Spellman approached Saturday's sectional doubles championship match against Lake Park's Jack Millikan and Luke Szulczynski unaware of its overall significance.
Perhaps that was a good thing.
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Amburgey and Spellman rallied from a 3-2 second-set deficit to earn a 6-2, 6-3 victory that ultimately propelled the North Stars to their first sectional team tennis title since 2011 at St. Charles East. St. Charles North finished with 22 points while the host Saints had 20.
"I had no clue and I'm glad I didn't know," said Amburgey, a junior.
North Stars coach Sean Masoncup didn't want to put any added pressure on his top doubles combination prior to the finals match.
"The last thing I wanted them thinking about was our team thing," said Masoncup. "They needed to worry about getting the job done -- and they did a great job."
Spellman, a 3-time state doubles qualifier, earned some redemption along with his first sectional title.
"They've always been a real tough opponent for every doubles team in our sectional," he said of the Lancers' senior duo. "I lost to Lake Park's 1 (Millikan) as a sophomore (at sectionals) so it was really nice to come back out, play my best tennis and get the win."
Masoncup was proud of his team's focus during the emotional finals match.
"They have the perfect temperament to play in that type of match," said the coach. "They're never low. They're never high. They had a little hiccup there in that second set but they fought back."
Playing the last home match of his decorated high school career, St. Charles East senior Jasper Koenen captured his fourth straight sectional singles crown with a 6-0, 6-0 triumph over Lake Park sophomore Piotr Lada.
"It's weird that it's my last match here," said Koenen, who improved his career mark to 108-12. "To finish on my home court on a high note is very gratifying. I couldn't have asked for any other way."
The Michigan State-bound Koenen, who defeated Wheaton Academy junior Chris Jones 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals, lost only 1 home match over his entire prep career -- to Wheaton Academy's Devin Moore during his freshman season.
"Then he came back and beat him (Moore) on that same court freshman year for the sectional title," recalled Saints coach Rob Livermore.
Koenen, the senior student body president at St. Charles East, felt a flood of emotions as he left the court.
"It's very bittersweet that it comes to an end," said Koenen, who will be one of the speakers at Sunday's graduation. "I love this school so much and I'm really happy I could have an impact on the tennis program. All of the good times that I've had here both in the classroom, on the tennis court and with my friends is what I'm really going to miss."
"Jasper has been great for the program and a fantastic kid for the school," said Livermore. "He's a great person all-around and he's an absolutely fantastic tennis player. A 4-peat is an incredible accomplishment. I don't think we'll see that for a long time."
Koenen, who placed fourth in the state a year ago, carries high expectations heading into next week's state tournament.
"Last year, I was an underdog going into it and now I'm one of the top returning players," said Koenen. "I'm ready for it. It's time to prove I can win it all. I really want to do it for my school."
"He wants another shot at that title and he's going to do everything he can to get it," said Livermore.
Geneva senior Nick Huang suffered a 4-6, 6-7 (1) semifinal loss to Lada before retiring in the third-place match due to a back injury.
"It was hurting a lot, especially in that second set," said Huang, who won the sectional doubles title alongside Ryan Doeckel last year. "I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to finish but I know in the back of my mind that my main goal was to compete in the state tournament.
"Hopefully the next couple days of rest, ice and chiropractic appointments will allow me to play in the tournament."
Geneva's John Potts and Doeckel placed third with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over St. Charles East's George Spoerl and Alex Winters.
Both teams qualified for the state tournament, which will begin Thursday at various suburban sites.