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updated: 9/28/2013 10:00 PM

Grant's Schoenberg serves notice in Lakes Invitational

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By Marty Maciaszek
Daily Herald Correspondent

One powerful serve knocked the racket right out of her opponent's hand Saturday morning.

Another one shot through a standard-sized opening in the chain-link fence surrounding the courts at Grayslake North and led an observer to ask, "How did that happen?"

Freshman Gaby Schoenberg has served notice that the girls high school girls tennis community in Illinois will have to pay attention to Grant. Schoenberg kept her perfect record intact as she didn't lose a game in four matches and beat Carmel junior Christina Rao 6-0, 6-0 to win the No. 1 singles title in the eighth annual Lakes Invitational.

"I've trained really hard for this," said Schoenberg, who has extensive USTA tournament experience. "I'm happy to be helping my team out because it hasn't really been one of the top schools for tennis."

Carmel has been and it won titles at the other four spots and beat Grayslake Central 38-22 for the crown in the 14-team tourney. The fourth-year duo of Michelle Kannenberg and Kathleen Felicelli lost only five games en route to the No. 1 doubles title at Lakes and Maddie O'Donnell took the No. 2 singles title.

"Everyone gets along," Kannenberg said.

"It's a good group of girls and everybody is having fun," Felicelli said.

Schoenberg is also having fun at a school that has never had a state tennis medalist. She hasn't lost more than 2 games in a set this season.

"It's nice to have someone at Grant playing at a high level," said Grant coach Shea Wintersteen. "Her dad would hit with her on the tennis courts ... and I said, 'Wow, who is this girl and when is she going to come to play?' I wasn't sure if she was going to come to Grant but when I heard from some other girls that she was here I got really excited."

Schoenberg started playing at age 3 and began entering USTA events when she was 6. She had some thoughts of sticking with the tourney circuit but really wanted to play high school tennis.

"My parents thought this would be a good sport for girls to excel in and they kind of picked it for me," said Schoenberg of her dad who played baseball at Illinois State and mom who played high school volleyball. "As I got older I learned to love it and that's why I'm still playing.

"It's really cool (to bring attention to Grant). I love my school a lot and it means a lot to me."

Wintersteen said Schoenberg's attitude is evident on a daily basis.

"She is very, very committed," said Wintersteen, who is considering adjusting his nonconference schedule for next year to give Schoenberg some increased competition. "She always comes to practice and wants to hit and she's very dedicated."

Schoenberg will get tested in the next few weeks by North Suburban Conference powers Lake Forest, Stevenson and Warren. But she's looking forward to it en route to achieving her goal of making the state tourney.

"I don't know if I'll be able to beat them," said Schoenberg, whose life-long goal is to play professionally, "but I'm pretty sure I'll be able to be competitive with them."

Felicelli and Kannenberg said this will probably be their finale for competitive tennis. They won the title 6-1, 6-1 over a team from Rockford Auburn and their only losses are to Stevenson and Crystal Lake Central.

They made it to state as sophomores but missed last year when Kannenberg dislocated her knee and Felicelli had tendinitis in her wrist.

"We want to go out with a boom," Kannenberg said.

"A bang," Felicelli countered with a smile.

Rao is also coming back from an elbow injury that kept her off the court for six months. Her degree of difficulty also increased with her move up from No. 2 singles when junior standout Bri Minor opted to play on the tourney circuit this fall.

"It's good to play hard people," Rao said after not losing a game in her first two matches. "The competition, I enjoy it, and you play to your competition. It's a good experience and it's better than playing bad and losing."

O'Donnell beat Grayslake North's Kaitlyn Christiansen 6-0, 6-2 for the No. 2 singles title. Megan Sullivan and Sarah Bowles and Ruthie Firnbach and Megan Healy won the Nos. 2 and 3 doubles titles respectively.

Raquel Ruiz finished third at No. 2 singles for Grayslake Central and its doubles teams of No. 2 Yuliya Mykhaylaovska-Sarah Adornetto and No. 3 Olivia Love-Carly Sullivan took third.

Antioch finished third as Sara Petty and Melissa Donovan were third at No. 1 doubles with a three-set win over Grayslake Central's Alexa Schneider and Brenda Zador. Mundelein's Kalli Majewski beat Antioch's Sjana Henderson for third at No. 1 singles in a battle of freshmen.

Lakes' Stephanie Lass took fifth at No. 1 singles, Antioch's Maddie Brost was fifth at No. 2 and Mundelein's Sara Jump and Kelly McCauley were fifth at No. 1 doubles.

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