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updated: 9/4/2014 11:10 AM

Girls tennis / Scouting Lake County

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  • Karyna Bihel of Warren, left, is congratulated by Halle Roach of Libertyville, after finishing second to Lake Forest's Elizabeth Zordani during the North Suburban Conference girls tennis meet last season. Bihel and Roach figure to play key roles for their teams again this fall.

       Karyna Bihel of Warren, left, is congratulated by Halle Roach of Libertyville, after finishing second to Lake Forest's Elizabeth Zordani during the North Suburban Conference girls tennis meet last season. Bihel and Roach figure to play key roles for their teams again this fall.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 

NORTH SUBURBAN LAKE

LAKE ZURICH

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Coach: Marcus Sipiera (13th season; first since 2009)

Last year: 11-6, 6th in NSC tournament

Key losses: Sam Wilson, Sarah Ditton, Sam Bendfeldt, Arianna Soheil, Mi Jin Han (moved)

Top returnees: Senior Stephanie Johnson, Gabi Bendfeldt, Emily Leahy; junior Breanna Casey

Top newcomers: Seniors Mary Sinclair, Jamie Pryhuber, Maggie Hilton, Hannah Bostrom, Hannah Pittman; juniors Anna Lueken, Paige Savarese

Outlook: Sipiera returns to lead the program after Aaron Rogers stepped back to coach the JV this season. What should help Sipiera and the Bears is having Gabi Bendfeldt and Leahy at No. 1 doubles, Casey at No. 1 singles and Johnson at singles or doubles. Bendfeldt, Casey and Johnson all gained solid experience in the NSC tournament last year by reaching fifth-place doubles matches. "We have a veteran team that should be able to finish in the top half of the conference," Sipiera said, "with the possibility to do more." Sinclair and Savarese will also compete at singles with Lueken, Pryhuber, Hilton, Bostrom and Pittman looking to fill out the doubles lineup.

LIBERTYVILLE

Coach: Dan Kiernan (10th season)

Last year: 7-5, 5th in NSC tournament

Key losses: Madeline Wagner, Abby Anderson

Top returnees: Seniors Halle Roach, Ola Grabowski; sophomores Dani Blaser, Callie Klein

Top newcomers: Senior Rosanna Chen; junior Gabby Struik; sophomores Tanvi Patel, Lauren Paulson, Arthi Sekharan

Outlook: The Valparaiso-bound Roach, who is one of the best players in the Midwest, qualified for state as a sophomore and finished fifth in the rugged NSC at No. 1 singles last year. Grabowski went 1-2 at state doubles last year with the graduated Wagner and could fit in at singles or doubles with Blaser and Klein. "Dani and Callie have been playing together for a good year and will be a strong team either at No. 1 or No. 2 doubles," Kiernan said. "These top four players are very versatile and will move around." Kiernan is hoping the Wildcats can move up at least one spot from last year in the NSC race with state powers Stevenson, Lake Forest and Warren.

MUNDELEIN

Coach: Brian Packowitz (fifth season)

Last year: 10th in NSC tournament

Key losses: Sara Jump, Kelly McCauley

Top returnees: Kalli Majewski, Lauren Ewing, Jessica Peterson

Top newcomers: Breanna Park

Outlook: The Mustangs have a lot of new faces with only six returnees from last year. But one of the familiar faces is Majewski, who won her first-round NSC No. 1 singles match last year as a freshman. Ewing will move up a spot to No. 1 doubles. "We are looking to improve in the conference tournament from last year," Packowitz said. "A few of our players have worked really hard in the offseason in order to be more competitive this year." Majewski and Peterson finished first in singles as Mundelein won the Lakes quad on Saturday.

STEVENSON

Coach: Tom Stanhope (fifth season)

Last year: 4th in state, sectional champions, tied for NSC tournament title, 2nd in NSC Lake

Key losses: Alexxis Kiven (Dartmouth)

Top returnees: Seniors Kendall Kirsch, Zoe Manion, Kaylin Dong, Michelle Tulchinskaya; junior Vinaya Rao

Top newcomers: Freshmen Zoe Taylor, Kate Harvey, Bronwyn Heidkamp

Outlook: A state doubles title by Kiven and Kirsch put the Patriots just 3 points behind co-champions Lake Forest and Hinsdale Central and 2 points back of New Trier in their hunt for a top-three state trophy. "Graduating your best player always hurts, but everyone else is coming back and no one is taking a year off," said Stanhope, whose team went 19-1 on Saturday at the New Trier Invitational. "We have a very, very deep team." Kirsch and Manion, who are both considering Division I options, are strong candidates for the top two singles spots along with Taylor. Dong, Tulchinskaya and Rao return with valuable state experience and Harvey also won all four of her matches at New Trier -- one at singles and three at doubles with Rao. "We're always tinkering," Stanhope said of getting his lineup ready for big battles down the road with Lake Forest, Hinsdale Central, New Trier and Warren. "We have to check a lot of things out and mathematically predict where we can max out points when it comes to the state tournament." Stevenson finished third in 2011 and second in 1996 and 1979.

WARREN

Coach: Vince DeSecki (11th season)

Last year: 7th in state, 3rd in NSC tournament, 3rd in NSC Lake

Key losses: Max Mella, Courtney Sunday, Lauren Vrabel

Top returnees: Seniors Alex Mella, Mikayla Schultz, Roxanne Pantelyuk, Julia Papillon, Lindsey O'Brien, Alyssa Dias, Rachelle Geraldino, Laura Olander, Danielle Freeman; junior Karyna Bihel

Top newcomers: Senior Ariel Haith; juniors Megan Waterhouse, Erin Siekmann, Kelci Machnics, Emma Falish, Nicole Kratsov, Carly Holman

Outlook: Expectations are higher for the Blue Devils with Alex Mella, Bihel and Schultz returning from the best state finish in program history. "it will always be hard to be competitive on depth with those teams," DeSecki said of reigning NSC co-champs Stevenson and Lake forest. "But I feel the top of our lineup can compete with anybody in the state." That was evident as Warren repeated as Champaign Invitational tournament champions last weekend even though half of the lineup was new. Bihel and Mella went 4-2 at state last year and finished second in the NSC at Nos. 1 and 2 singles respectively. "They're one of the best 1-2 singles punches in the area," DeSecki said. Schultz went 3-2 at state doubles last year with Vrabel and went 3-1 at Champaign with Waterhouse, who moved in from Washington state just a couple of weeks before school started. Pantelyuk and Papillon also went 3-1 at Champaign.

NORTH SUBURBAN PRAIRIE

ANTIOCH

Coach: Jamie D'Andrea (first season)

Last year: 7th in NSC tournament

Key losses: Missy Donovan (Millikin), Sara Petty

Top returnees: Seniors Maddie Brost, Erin Boudreau; sophomore Sjana Henderson

Top newcomer: Freshman Kelsey Neville

Outlook: D'Andrea takes over after spending the last three years as Antioch's JV coach and she will have Neville and Henderson at her top two singles spots. Henderson played No. 1 singles last year and won her first-round NSC tourney match and Neville comes in with USTA tournament success. Neville took second at No. 1 singles Saturday as Antioch won the Niles West quad. "I believe at least Kelsey and Sjana will place at our conference meet and will hopefully advance beyond sectionals," said D'Andrea, who is still deciding where they will play at the top two spots. "Our program is putting a lot of pressure on the shoulders of these two underclassmen. I believe they are up to the challenge, though, and I'm excited to see where the season takes them." Brost, who took sixth in the NSC at No. 3 singles, and Boudreau are the only seniors on the roster as the Sequoits look to finish in the top three of the NSC Prairie. "The majority of my team began playing tennis and/or taking lessons in middle school, so they just don't have the same tennis experience as the bigger schools' athletes," D'Andrea said. "Many of them are natural athletes, though, so I anticipate them being successful throughout the season."

GRANT

Coach: Shea Wintersteen (third season)

Last year: 4th in NSC Prairie; Tied for 8th in NSC tournament

Key losses: Alec Mora, Alli Kramer, Sarah Vandervest

Top returnees: Senior Morgan King; juniors Katerina Antonishina; sophomores Kyrsten Bruce, Gaby Schoenberg

Top newcomers: Junior Alyssa Veness; sophomore Emily Bajerski

Outlook: Schoenberg looks to bring Grant more statewide attention in tennis circles after a freshman year where she became the school's first singles state qualifier since 1998. Schoenberg went 3-2 at state last year to finish 31-5 overall and she took fourth at No. 1 singles in the power-packed NSC. Antonishina returns after playing No. 2 singles last year and Bruce and King have varsity doubles experience. "The team had a lot of inexperience with potential last year and looks to add a couple more wins this year," Wintersteen said.

LAKES

Coach: Bryan Plinske (10th season at Lakes, 19th overall)

Last year: 6-7 overall; third in NSC Prairie; 11th in NSC tournament

Key losses: Stephanie Lass (Webster University), Haley Fischer, Hannah Urban, Geena Paoli, Paige Whitaker, Gabby Keenan, Lisa Milter

Top Returnees: Seniors Morgan Visser, Meghann Silagan, Candice Lowe; junior Ally Perdue

Top Newcomers: Juniors Liana Lopez, Kelsey Feustel; sophomore Sydney Misiek

Outlook: Plinske is excited about what Visser, Silagan and Lowe will bring to the Eagles' mix of youth and experience this year. "We have great senior leadership and they are looking to make the most of their final season," Plinske said. Lowe will be one of their top singles players with Lopez and Misiek. Visser and Perdue move up to No. 1 doubles this year and they went 3-0 to win the Lakes Quad last weekend. Silagan and Feustel will team at No. 2 doubles and took second in their quadrangular. "We are looking to compete for the division championship," Plinske said.

ROUND LAKE

Coach: Atom Davis (second season)

Last year: Tied for 13th in NSC tournament

Key losses: Daniela Aviles, Emme Aviles

Top returnees: Juniors Jacque Schmidt, Taylor Schneider

Outlook: Davis continues to work at bringing continuity to Round Lake tennis. Schneider returns at singles to play the No. 2 spot and Schmidt will go to No. 1 singles after playing varsity doubles last year. "We have a lot of new faces in the program this year," Davis said. "We will continue to work to get better."

VERNON HILLS

Coach: Doug Gerber (14th season)

Last year: NSC Prairie champions; 4th in NSC tournament

Key losses: Elizabeth Borgman, Rachel Jacoby, Prathyusha Namburi, Melissa Roshass, Victoria Sobolev, Mary Tsakadaze

Top returnees: Seniors Shreya Kathuria, Jillian Roussell, Isabella Cirone; junior Sneha Sivaram

Top newcomers: Seniors Stella Shang, Crystal Shang, Hannah Cho, Shale Brenner; juniors Leah Dosemagen, Isabella Kosoglaz; sophomores Olivia Jazbutis, Jessica Tartakovsky; freshmen Sydney Pacer, Weronika Przybylo

Outlook: The Cougars continued to dominate the NSC Prairie with their 11th title in 14 years but they also took a step up in the NSC as their fourth-place finish was their best in program history. Kathuria and Roussell were in the Cougars' NSC lineup last year and now are paired at No. 1 doubles with Sivaram and Cirone at No. 2 doubles. "Our experience lies in doubles," Gerber said. They lost their top three singles players from last year but Gerber hopes Dosemagen, Jazbutis and Tartakovsky can help the Cougars achieve similar results to last year. "We will be having close matches with our Prairie division opponents once again,' Gerber said. "We will be a competitive team."

WAUCONDA

Coach: Melissa Hoffmann (15th season at Wauconda; 17th overall)

Last year: 8-9, 4th in NSC Prairie; Tied for 8th in NSC tournament

Key losses: Jena Heck, Ally Kleiner, Danielle Sturm

Top returnees: Seniors Kacey Cabanban, Maddy Kleiner, Alex O'Day, Hanna Gomoll

Top newcomers: Freshman Sarah Hackman

Outlook: Hoffmann said spots are still open for Wauconda as it finished second in the Lakes quad Saturday. Cabanban and Kleiner took second at singles and Gomoll and O'Day took second at No. 1 doubles. "We are improving on our individual skills on a daily basis," Hoffmann said. "My team is comprised of hard workers and dedicated players. We hope to be successful in our division."

FOX VALLEY FOX

GRAYSLAKE CENTRAL

Coach: Chuck Lawson (eighth season)

Last year: Fifth in FVC tournament

Top returnees: Seniors Brenda Zador, Sarah Adornetto, Michelle May, Yuliya Mykhaylovska, Melanie Cho, Grace Jang, Kayla Smith; juniors Nicole Tatsuguchi, Racquel Ruiz, Kelsey Littner

Top newcomers: Sophomores Kathrene Tolentino, Jessica Kula; freshman Lia Boucek

Outlook: All but one player returns from the Rams' sectional lineup from a year ago -- which had Tatsuguchi and Ruiz at singles and Zador, Adornetto and Mykhaylovska at doubles. The experience and work ethic has Lawson looking for the Rams to exceed or match their FVC finish of last year. "The program has improved every year," Lawson said. "All of our players were in summer tennis camp and they continue to play year-round."

GRAYSLAKE NORTH

Coach: Jill Tomasello (10th season)

Last year: 10th in FVC tournament; 5th in FVC Fox

Key losses: Hannah Collins, Rachel Crutcher, Cayla Dole, Catherine Dudek, Kendall Getzinger, Nathalia Moran, Caitlyn Sinclair, Lilla Szini, Alexandra Williams

Top returnees: Seniors Cassie Friedman, Erin Hendrix, Kaitlyn Christiansen

Top newcomers: Juniors Emma Krostal, Charlotte Muehlmann

Outlook: Hendrix is back from last year's sectional lineup for the Knights and will be at No. 2 singles with Christiansen at No. 1. Friedman is expected to be part of the No. 1 doubles team as the Knights look to finish in the top half of the FVC. "We lost over half of our lineup to graduation so we are rebuilding again," Tomasello said. "I think we will fare well against our local schools and we look forward to competing against them in sectionals."

EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC

CARMEL

Coach: Chris Kannenberg (second season)

Last year: 2nd in ESCC tournament

Key losses: Kathleen Felicelli, Michelle Kannenberg

Top returnees: Seniors Bri Minor, Christina Rao, Maddy O'Donnell; sophomore Marie Kapalevich

Outlook: Bri Minor's return is a major addition for Carmel. The Michigan-bound Minor went 3-1 and 4-2 at state as a freshman and sophomore, respectively, before playing on the national tournament circuit last season. Minor's sister Jasmine won a state title in 2010 and played D-I tennis along with her sister Kristina. "Bri is one of the top players in the state," Kannenberg said. "What an impressive family for tennis." Although the Corsairs lost their record-setting doubles duo of Felicelli and Michelle Kannenberg (4-2 at state last year) to graduation, Rao returns after going 2-2 at state and will team with O'Donnell at doubles and Kapalevich should help the Corsairs battle defending champion Benet in the ESCC. "We have a strong, deep team," Chris Kannenberg said. "We feel we are competitive with many of the schools in the area."

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