It was déjà vu all over again at the Jacobs boys tennis sectional on Saturday.
The Golden Eagles won their second straight sectional team title while South Elgin senior Andre Norasith repeated as the individual champion. Both won at the Elgin sectional a year ago.
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The top-seed Norasith experimented with playing doubles earlier in the year and was set back by a midseason foot injury, but was back in top form for the postseason. He cruised through his semifinal match against Jacobs' Kendrick Chong 6-0, 6-0 then won a hard-fought battle 6-4, 6-3 against Chong's teammate, second-seeded Kailash Panchapakesan.
"This is the best I have played in a while," Norasith said. "My serve got me out of some trouble. It was something I had struggled with lately, but I was glad to see it back today."
It's the fourth straight trip to the state finals for Norasith.
"The biggest difference this year is I have put in a lot work with my trainer to improve my fitness," Norasith said. "This is probably the best I have ever felt."
Norasith (17-4) went 3-2 at state two years ago as a sophomore, but will be looking to make up for a disappointing showing last year when he lost his first 2 matches.
"I believe he is playing at his best level," South Elgin coach Brett Johnson said. "He has grown from just another high school tennis player into a young man this year."
Jacobs won the team title with 28 points. South Elgin and Huntley were the next closest with 16 points each. The Golden Eagles' top-seeded doubles team of sophomore Riley Rowan and Matt Toomire captured the sectional title in their first year as partners.
"At the beginning of the year they were winning, but they looked like two disjointed singles players," Jacobs coach Jon Betts said. "But as the season went on they got a better feel for how the other one plays. They are really playing well as a team right now."
Rowan and Toomire suffered a disappointing loss in the semifinals of the Fox Valley Conference meet, which served as a motivating factor this weekend. They knocked off Chad Wagner and Brad Spangenberg of Dundee-Crown 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals then beat the Huntley team of Jake Grabner and Matt Frederick 6-3, 6-3 in the finals.
"We were definitely hungry to make up for that loss at conference," Toomire said. "We have learned to play well together. I do my thing being aggressive at the net and I know he's going to hit some big serves."
Panchapakesan and Chong will still both advance to state, along with the Golden Eagles' second doubles team of Kyle Powell and Will Libby. The duo upset the third seed on Friday and then took both D-C and Jacobs to three sets on Saturday, but came up short in both matches and had to settle for fourth.
"There was some great tennis played today," Betts said. "I thought our guys all played well. It's great to see all six qualify."
At Cary-Grove: Prairie Ridge scored 33 points to run away with the team championship at the Cary-Grove sectional. Crystal Lake South was second with 18. The Gators' doubles team of seniors Joe Baietto and Kyle Devlin finished fourth to advance to state.
Hit For Henry Clinic: "Hit for Henry" is a tennis clinic and tournament that will be taking place June 6-8 at the Jacobs High School tennis courts. All proceeds will benefit Henry Betts and his fight against Muscular Dystrophy. (Henry is the son of Jon Betts, District 300 Liberty Elementary teacher and Jacobs High School tennis coach.) The clinic is for students in grades K-8 and beginning adults on June 6. (No previous tennis experience necessary.) The tournament is for high school and adult tennis players interested in playing for a good cause on June 6-8. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a registration form. Registration deadline is May 28.