A persistent rain washed out the final rounds of the Upstate Eight Conference River Division tournament Saturday, forcing the four area teams that are in the hunt for the title to wait until Monday afternoon.
"We're disappointed," St. Charles North coach Sean Masoncup said. "We came together as a team this morning and made sure we were all ready to play."
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St. Charles North entered the tournament at the top with a slim lead over Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles East. Little changed after Friday's rounds.
As the rain forced the players off the courts Saturday afternoon, the North Stars still led with 31 points, followed by Batavia and Geneva with 29, and St. Charles East was in fourth with 27.
But it's far from over.
"This is the closest I've ever seen a conference tournament around this area, as a player or a coach," Masoncup said.
As they've done all season long, the North Stars have relied on strong play by their doubles teams, as all four duos earned the top seed in their bracket. Danny Oakes and Dominick Amalraj, the tournament's top doubles team, swept their second round match over Larkin's Adam Senesombath and Tony Hernandez, 6-0, 6-1. They will play Elgin's Eric Chai and Sakda Kethdy in the final.
The North Stars' No. 2 doubles team of Grant Spellman and Bobby Dunteman also scored a decisive win in the semis, beating Geneva's John Potts and Brad Burgess, 6-0, 6-1. They will go up against Batavia's Kyle Stiffler and Jeff Lorden, who got to the final by winning a tough match over St. Charles East's Matt McCarthy and Bradley Sullivan.
Rival schools will meet in the third doubles championship match as St. Charles North's Eli McCray and Eric Pashan will take on the Saints' duo of Matt DeSantis and Dan Rasmussen, whom they beat in straight sets less than a week ago.
"We're in the hunt, and it's still wide open, but it could close, too," St. Charles East coach Rob Livermore said.
The lone doubles bracket in which the North Stars failed to earn a spot in the finals is at fourth, where Batavia's Matt Potter and Matt McFarland upset Cam Staroske and Mitch Riggs, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, in the semis. The Bulldogs will take on St. Charles East's George Spoerl and Chris Gicia, who also knocked off a higher seed, sweeping Geneva's Ford Dickenson and Spencer Ankley, 6-2, 6-4.
The marquee match of the tournament, the inevitable showdown between Batavia's Josh Cogan and St. Charles East's Jasper Koenen, was started and suspended on Saturday with Cogan holding a 2-1 lead in the first set.
Batavia's chances of winning the tournament took a bit of hit when Elgin's Reza Khan beat top-seeded Ryan Sterling in the second singles semifinals, 6-3, 6-2.
But there is still a path to the title for the host Bulldogs.
"That's how it's been, one moment you're elated, then you lose one and you come down," Batavia coach Bob Kummer said. "But we have great kids, and they're playing their hardest out there."
Khan will play second seeded Justin Bowman in the final. Bowman advanced by sweeping Geneva's Nick Huang, 6-2, 6-2.
Along with Huang, the Vikings' hopes may ride with Nick McCarty who will be playing Batavia's Adam Maris in the No. 3 finals.
That match, like any of the remaining matches, in fact, could be the one that makes the difference between a conference tournament to remember for one team and disappointment for another.
It's that close.
"With this many teams still in the running, it makes it exciting and meaningful for more kids," Kummer said. "It makes for a better tournament when you're all competitive."