Boys tennis: Arnieri, York rise to the top at Willowbrook sectional

It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s doubles or singles for York senior Anthony Arnieri.

Either way, he excels.

Last year as a doubles player, he and teammate Brennen Maxeiner earned all-state recognition with a top-24 finish at the state meet.

But prior to the start of this season, Arnieri went to coach Karen Avery with a request.

“Anthony came to us and said that he’d like to put singles on his resume,” said Avery.

“He just came right out of the box this year and really (took to) singles. That’s an entirely different level, and he’s fought hard and is putting it all together.”

Saturday at the Class 2A Willowbrook sectional, Arneiri showed just how far he has progressed.

Arnieri claimed the sectional championship with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Glenbard East sophomore Finn Talbot.

The senior, who will now move on to the 2024 state tournament Thursday, went up against extremely tough competition at Willowbrook.

He not only had to battle against Talbot, who he called “a real solid player,” he also had to contend with the extremely warm temperatures.

“The sun was beating down,” Arnieri said, “and it was in your eyes depending (on which side of the court) when you were serving.

“And there definitely were some shots that I wasn’t able to make and he (Talbot) was getting to everything.”

Still he persevered to get the win with a dazzling display of tennis.

Avery added that the senior is going to be a tough player to replace.

“We’re so proud of him,” said the coach. “He’s our captain and we feel very lucky that he played for us.”

Arnieri will move on after graduation to enroll at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he’ll pursue a dual degree in accounting and finance.

And despite the heat Saturday, cold weather was on his mind.

“It’ll be nice,” he said, “to get out of Chicago winters. I’m really going to enjoy it.”

Talbot had some great moments in the match himself but ultimately fell to the No. 1 seed.

“It was close in the first set,” he said. “In the second set he was able to grab a lead but I came back to take two games at the end.

“I was doing a good job of keeping the returns deep, because his serve is very good. I also feel like I was taking my opportunities.”

Talbot will also advance to state, as the top four individuals and the top four doubles teams move on.

York’s Maxeiner, teamed up now with Nate Yu, won the doubles crown Saturday with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Dylan Wallace and David Hill from Wheaton North.

York also was first in team points at the sectional with 33.

Oliver Kubicki from Lake Park triumphed in the third place match in singles, besting Alex Flores of York 6-3, 6-1.

“I thought it was a battle out there,” said Kubicki, a senior. “It seemed like each point lasted 10 rallies.

“It just came down to who would hit the last shot and it happened to be me.”

Kubicki added that he, like most competitors Saturday, had some trouble dealing with the unseasonal heat.

“It was so hard at times to even stand up,” he said. “At one point I wasn't even thinking out there, I was just going out and doing it.”

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