Batavia dominates UEC tourney
By coming into the Upstate Eight River Division girls' tennis conference tournament with 40 points already secured by virtue of sweeping the conference dual meets, Batavia just needed maybe another 25 points or so and some patience before hoisting the championship trophy.
Instead, the Bulldogs chose to leave little doubt Saturday morning on their home court by securing first-place titles in six of the seven brackets to ring up another 40 points for 80, only two points shy of collecting every possible conference point.
"The season was very impressive, but every day the girls do something more to impress," said a pleased Batavia coach Brad Nelson. "They played very steady tennis and nerves didn't seem to be a factor at all, and they played with a lot of confidence."
So much confidence, in fact, that the No. 1 doubles team of senior co-captains Hannah Potter and Kaitlin Mills finished an unblemished conference record by topping Carly Ausman and Emily Malecha of Geneva in the title match 6-0, 6-2.
"In the end we pulled out the match and that's all that matters," Potter said when asked if any phase of the game was difficult in the tournament. "The scores can always be different depending on the day, but if we win in the end, I'm happy."
The Batavia duo has its sights set on bigger prey now, with the sectional tournament at St. Charles East looming.
"We're hoping to win sectionals and then win some matches at state and get as far as we can," Mills said. "We definitely have some tough matches ahead."
Nelson figures his prize first doubles pair can get deep in state tournament action.
"When they are on, they are as good as anybody," Nelson said.
Batavia's three other doubles teams shared the spotlight by completing a title sweep for the Bulldogs in doubles action.
Sophomore Jenny Mizikar and freshman Amelia Cogan marched through second doubles to bounce Caty Esler and Sarah Church of St. Charles East 6-0, 6-1 in the title match.
In third doubles, senior Karissa Schroeder and sophomore Brooke LeFevre held off Geneva's junior Kelsey Hess and sophomore Margo Hess 6-1, 6-4 to secure the title, while juniors Morgan Hess and Lauren Hermann stopped St. Charles East seniors Lauren McNally and Claudia Morency 6-1, 6-3 to nab the fourth doubles title.
Junior Brittany Plaszewski of St. Charles North broke the Batavia dominance by claiming the No. 1 singles title with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Geneva freshman Kirby Einck.
The victory marked the second time the top singles players in the conference faced each other, with Plaszewski coming out a winner in dual action as well, 7-5, 6-2.
In the conference tournament, Plaszewski opened up big enough leads in each set to survive her own rough spots.
"My serve was really off, and I double-faulted a few times out there and I did it on big points," Plaszewski said.
But early in the match, her lob shots befuddled Einck who reached as high as she could to return the bouncing balls, but hit most of them off the court.
"It was an effective shot for me," Plaszewski added. "Most people just call it a lob shot, but I call it topspin lob, because I put a spin on it that makes the ball bounce higher than expected."
Liza Fruendt shook off the shock of losing the first match of her two-year career two weeks ago against Glenbard South by wiping out the competition in second singles at the conference tournament.
After claiming her title by knocking off Geneva's Stephanie Sharpe 6-2, 6-3, Fruendt assessed her game in the simplest of tennis terms.
"Consistency is the key and making sure everything I hit back is in," Fruendt said. Tamar Norville rolled to a 6-4, 6-1 title in third singles over St. Charles North's Jessica Szymanski, after surviving a tough second round match against freshman Emma Hazel of Geneva 6-2, 7-6 (3).
St. Charles North coach Eve Tubman watched her team settle for a distant second place after some agonizing setbacks for doubles teams she felt would advance.
The North Stars' second doubles team of Kaity Wolfe and Alex Duncan was upset by Larkin's E. Weber and A. DelaFuente 2-6, 7-6 (7), 6-3 in the second round.
"Larkin's doubles team played really well and deserved to move on," Tubman said.
But it was added pain for the North Stars when the first doubles team of Kate Lesswig and Ashley Randazzo nearly knocked off Batavia's Potter and Mills before succumbing in the second round 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7).
"It was a heartbreaker to lose," Tubman said. "We had the match on our rackets and we couldn't finish it, but it was a real confidence builder for them because now they know they can play with anyone."
St. Charles East coach Sena Drawer said her team "did some amazing things" in placing fourth in the tournament behind third-place Geneva.
"A real bright spot for us was beating Geneva's second-seeded team at No. 2 doubles when Katey Esler and Sarah Church won 6-0, 6-1," Drawer said.
Drawer was also pleased the Saints were able to knock off a second-seeded St. Charles North team at fourth doubles when Morency and McNally topped Kelly and Katherine Mehan 6-4, 7-5 in the second round.
For Batavia, what has turned out to be a perfect season thus far will become a little tougher when sectional action unfolds next weekend at St. Charles East.
"Tennis is a very mental game, and if you play with confidence and you know you can win a big match or can come back from being way down in a big match, that goes a long way," Nelson said.
"We're going into the sectional with a lot of confidence and hopefully we'll see our season be extended."