Sporting finishes for Harvey, VanDixhorn at state
Stevenson senior Colin Harvey has won just about every major title available in his four years of high school tennis, and he got to add one more glowing item to his resume Saturday.
In addition to the team trophies and state doubles medals he's accumulated while playing for coach Tom Stanhope, Harvey shares this year's Tom Pitchford Sportsmanship Award with Glenbrook North senior David Zakhodin.
Harvey got the news in a special ceremony at the North Shore Tennis Club in Northbrook, where the championship matches of the state finals were held after weather forced the action indoors.
Hinsdale Central was crowned state champion, earning its fourth straight team victory.
Deerfield's Chris Casati-Niko Wasilewicz won the doubles state title before Hinsdale Central senior Martin Joyce earned his second singles title in three years.
For Harvey, it was a fitting conclusion to a standout career.
"I was a state champion at doubles last year along with Andrew (Komarov), and I love him like his was my brother," said the Michigan State-bound Harvey. "He and I won a bunch of other tournament and conference titles, and so did our team. But being honored along with David is without a doubt the best thing that has happened to me while playing high school tennis, and it's something that I'll cherish forever."
"My parents have always taught us that honor and respect for each other, along with playing with good sportsmanship and high values, is what it really is all about. So getting this award validates all those things."
Over his four years, Harvey left quite an impression on Stanhope.
"How do you replace I young man like Colin?" asks Stanhope. "I have been very fortunate, and so has our program, to have two incredible players and student-athletes like (Harvey) and Blake Bazarnik come through our program."
Harvey and Zakhodin were honored after a selection process led by committee chair Matt Gross, who took names of potential nominees before a final vote by the coaching community.
"There are a lot of factors that go into our eventual award winners, including their demeanor on and off the court, sportsmanship, outside activities, work in and around the community, and, of course, strong recommendations from coaches who observe the players throughout the spring season," said Gross, who is also the coach at Ottawa High School. "Colin received high marks from everyone who came in contact with him, and in particular, Josh Leighton (head coach at Deerfield), who also happened to be the Tom Pitchford recipient in 1992 when playing at Glenbrook North."
"I was speechless when I heard my name called," said Harvey. "You always try to go out and play with class and dignity, but you never expect anyone to truly notice it. So when I was selected, I just couldn't believe it."
If the award was solely given for accomplishments on the court, the Patriots captain still might have been selected. He's a four-time state qualifier, including three times with Komarov (now playing at Case-Western), a two-time state medalist and a three-time sectional doubles champion, with 76 victories in three years at doubles.
During their championship run last spring, Komarov and Harvey won a staggering 84 games while dropping just 21 during the three days of competition and earning 16 of the Patriots' 27 points in the team race.
Harvey faced a tough health challenge this year and nearly missed the state tournament.
"I had a bout with mono last year, and it really took a lot out of me," he said. "Recently, there were repercussions from it and I missed a lot of school, training and tennis. And to be honest, I wasn't sure I could go this weekend.
"I went out and hit for about 25 minutes, and came back and felt terrible and really weak. But I went home, got plenty of rest and decided to have a go for our team, because I wasn't as important as they all were."
Harvey surprised even himself, winning his first three matches on opening day before falling in a grueling three-setter with 2014 state champion Eddie Grabill of Hinsdale Central.
In the backdraw, Harvey beat Tom Bickel of New Trier, before falling in a long match indoors at Center Court in Hanover Park to longtime friend Ben VanDixhorn to officially end his prep career.
"I was so emotionally and physical finished after that loss to Eddie, I just broke down and cried, something I never do," said Harvey. "But Komarov and my teammates came out to meet me, and it was easier for me then. And the same thing happened after my match with Ben. He's a great player and friend, but maybe the feeling that it was finally over is what drove me to tears."
VanDixhorn (32-3) earned a state medal after sweeping all three of his matches in the backdraw, including one with his hitting partner Noah Rosenblat of Deerfield, to capture a fifth-place trophy in Hanover Park.
"It feels good to come away with a top-five finish, especially in a singles field that was so deep and talented as this one was," said the Northwestern-bound VanDixhorn, also a model of class and sportsmanship. "This whole three days of competition was a blast and a lot of fun, and as I said before the tournament, I was really looking forward to playing in my final state tournament."
Libertyville sophomore Stefano Tsorotiotis dropped the first set of his consolation match on Saturday morning, then retired at the start of his second set.
The news was good for Michael Butler/Kevin Hunt of Carmel, even in defeat Saturday morning. The Corsairs standouts fell to Hinsdale Central's Lope Adelskun/Michael Czlonka 7-6 (2), 4-6 (11-9) in Hanover Park to a end a great three-day run under coach Chris Kannenberg.
"When you looked around at the start of this tournament and saw all of the quality and depth at doubles, and the three or four great teams from the Deerfield sectional that didn't qualify, then see your guys still playing into the third day, that really said something about those two guys," said Kannenberg.
"We had a fabulous state tournament," said Hunt. "It was easily the highlight of my career at Carmel, and I am sure the same is true for Michael, who was a great doubles partner, and even better friend throughout."
The Hunt/Butler tandem finished 36-5 this spring.
An overflow crowd at North Shore was treated to perhaps one of the most memorable and exciting final four groups at singles on Saturday, which ended when Joyce (23-0) and his sonic-boom serve met Lyons Township sophomore sensation Gianni Ross.
Joyce outlasted the nationally ranked Ross 6-4, 6-4, after each was stretched to their limit in earlier semifinals.
In an all-Hinsdale Central/Lyons Township semifinal round, Joyce held off Alex Ross, while Grabill fell to Gianni Ross (22-2) in a match that took nearly three hours.
In doubles, Deerfield's Casati/ Wasilewicz (31-5) upset No. 1 seed Miguel Perez/David Zakhodin (32-1) of Glenbrook North, much to the delight of Warriors coach Josh Leighton.
"When we put this team together during their sophomore year, I felt then they had a chance to be a top-32 or -24 team, and maybe eventually a top 12 team. But the more they worked during the off-season, and during the regular season and the more I watched them evolve, especially from the start of this year, I began to think that, yes, they could win it all," said Leighton.
"They went three sets with GBN earlier, then got torn apart at sectionals last weekend. Today, they're state champions."
Hinsdale Central won its fourth straight team title, outscoring Lyons Township 47-37. New Trier (31), Deerfield (26) and Stevenson (25) rounded out the top five.