Smooth sailing for VanDixhorn, Tsorotiotis and Stevenson tandem
There was an air of inevitability about the first day of the boys tennis state tournament from almost the moment Ben VanDixhorn, Stefano Tsorotiotis and Colin Harvey and Andrew Komarov took the courts at three venues as they calmly dispatched three opponents to advance into Friday's round of 16.
While at Rolling Meadows on Thursday, Libertyville's VanDixhorn (32-4) conceded just 10 games during his three matches, six coming at the hands of the terrific sophomore Mack Galvin (35-5) of Rolling Meadows during a 6-4, 6-2 decision which allowed the 3-4 seed to get home early for some much needed rest in anticipation of a 9 a.m. match with Noah Rosenblat (Deerfield) at tourney host Hersey in Arlington Heights.
"I felt really good right from the start today, and my plan from the beginning was to get through as quickly as I could in order to get out of the sun and heat and begin to prepare for an important second day here," said VanDixhorn. "It's a little different for me than last year, when I came in as more of an unknown. This time around there's a target on my back, but I feel like my training and our schedule has helped me both physically and mentally for three days of tennis."
The other half of the Cats' one-two punch, Tsorotiotis (27-3) was equally dominant in action at Hoffman Estates High School. The freshman rolled over three foes and next meets Christian San Andres (Downers Grove South); Tsorotiotis eliminated him 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals of the Pitchford 32 earlier this season.
All of the front draw in singles will be played at Hersey on Friday, while the first round of doubles in the championship bracket are at Buffalo Grove, with the winners moving over to Hersey to join the rest of the field.
Stevenson's Harvey/Komarov (25-3) asserted themselves quickly Thursday morning at Elk Grove, with straight-set victories over Naperville Central, Normal University, and finally Belleville West to book their place opposite 9-16 seed Jonah Philion/Miles Blum of Oak Park-River Forest.
"We were pushed a little during our first two matches, and that's something we haven't seen in our first two trips to the tournament," said Komarov, who with Harvey was a state runner-up last spring. "But it felt to get out of here early."
Stevenson's Adam Maryniuk/Matt Harvey (21-4) put in a terrific day's work during their maiden state voyage as a tandem by sweeping all three of their matches in Palatine to set up a key Friday morning contest against 1-2 seed Lope Adelakun-Chase Hamilton (20-0) of Hinsdale Central.
The Patriots' perfect first day in doubles, coupled with two victories from Benjamin Bush in singles, helped the club hold onto eighth place at day's end with 16 points, while the defending champions from Hinsdale Central and North Suburban Conference champ Lake Forest have 24 points apiece. New Trier is right there with 22 points, followed by Downers Grove South (20) and Highland Park and Glenbrook North (18 each).
The news was very good for Lake County schools when play was completed late in the afternoon, as Kevin Hunt (Carmel, 23-4) and the doubles teams from Vernon Hills (David Dobrik/Nikita Lunkov) and Warren (Samuel Gudeman/John Westerberg) all responded to first-round defeats with a vengeance to win three straight in the backdraw to stay alive another day.
After a heart-breaking three-set loss to Batavia (Adam Maris-Ryan Sterling) the Cougars reeled off a trio of two-set wins at Wheeling and next face Chicago Latin in an 8 a.m. matchup at Prospect High School with the hope of more success ahead.
"Batavia was a very deceptive, but very good team, and their ability to chip and lob and get almost everything back ultimately did us in," said Vernon Hills coach Doug Gerber. "But we came back to win the first set in a tie-breaker, then fell behind 0-3 in the second set against another good team from Quincy, and I thought the reason for our success today was the guys just left that first match loss behind them and moved on very well."
Gudeman, competing at state for a third time, and his teammate Westerberg will open today with Normal Community.
Hunt, a junior, meets Brandon Woznicka of Chicago Taft, who won three state matches last year.
Warren's Neil Shah/Scott Seiler (18-8) were eliminated on Thursday, as was Grayslake Central senior Miguel Tolentino, who ended his season at 25-11.
Antioch sophomore Braden Ward (22-9) saw his hopes of playing a second day here disappear following back-to-back losses at Hoffman Estates to East Suburban Catholic Conference runner-up Jack Geissler (Joliet Catholic) and a two-time qualifier from Marmion Academy, John King.
"Braden came out with a lot of energy and confidence in what I felt was a winnable match, but in that second set, a few points we should have won didn't go our way, and (Geissler) began to get into a comfort zone, which is a dangerous thing to have happen to you here," said Antioch coach Neil Lesinski. "Braden has had a terrific sophomore year, his improvement has come in every area of his game. But sometimes you have days like this."