Screams of joy resounded in the Vikings' backyard as Fremd's girls tennis team edged Mid-Suburban League power Barrington 4-3 in a nail-biter Thursday evening.
"I didn't think this day would come," said one-half of Fremd's no. 1 doubles tandem, senior Kate Bodensteiner. "We lost 7-0 my freshman year, and lost a heartbreaking one last year (to Barrington). It meant a lot to me and the team."
Six of the matches had been completed with the contest tied at 3 apiece, with only No. 2 doubles remaining. In last year's dual battle between the Fillies and Vikings (13-2), it also came down to the No. 2 doubles match to decide a 3-3 tie.
Fremd's sister act of Elsie and Kelli Ha notched a 6-4 win in the first set, while their opponent, Kathleen Tomiasan/Niyanthi Puliyala, prevailed 7-5 in the second set.
It all came down to a super tiebreaker.
"When we were down 5-6 in the second set, we couldn't kick the pressure," Elsie Ha said. "We just had to keep the ball in and be patient."
The Ha sisters dug themselves into a 6-3 hole to start the tiebreaker, but were able to battle back from the deficit. After tying the score 9-9, the ecstatic sisters scored back-to-back points to seal an individual victory as well as the team win.
"We didn't know what we were getting into," Kelli said. "We didn't know the score, but the match was high pressure anyway. It just shows we need to work harder. This is a great win for us -- and this is just the beginning for us."
The meet also showcased MSL state qualifiers: Fremd's No. 1 doubles Bodensteiner/Julia Smiarowska, Barrington's Nidhi Jha/Sara Amano and Vikings No. 1 singles standout Diya Matta.
Bodensteiner/Smiarowska bested Amano/Jha 6-3, 6-3, while Matta defeated Mounika Gadiraju 6-3, 6-0.
"It's always nerve-wracking playing (Jha/Amano)," Bodensteiner said. "Usually after the first couple of games the butterflies start to fly away."
Barrington (14-3) got a 6-4, 6-1 win from Azan Wazir against April Wu at third singles. The Fillies also got wins at No. 3 doubles, where Caroline Tomasian/Megan Lacy posted a 6-4, 6-3 win over Fremd's Selin Parmaksiz/Jane Bodensteiner, and at No. 4 doubles, with Mira Parekh/Barbara Covek topping Elizabeth Lubeck/Katie Sze 6-3, 6-0.
At No. 2 singles, Fremd's Kyra Emmanouilidis won 6-4, 6-1 against Maggie Tippet.
"I think they outplayed us," said Barrington coach Tracy Waters-Miller. "We couldn't stop them. But it's OK because we will work it out in practice and fix it for next time. I was pleased with our performance because Fremd has a very good team. I'm very excited for conference and sectionals."
The meeting of the two MSL powerhouses is the first, with at least a couple more to come this fall. Fremd and Barrington will face off again at the MSL tournament, and both teams will be part of the sectional field at Hersey.
"In my eight years as coach, it's always been our goal to beat Barrington," said Fremd coach Lauren O'Donnell. "Barrington is a great program. We'll take it as a positive, but we can't be too confident, especially with how close it was."