Another classic victory for Stevenson at Prospect
Stevenson's girls tennis team kept its streak alive by winning a fourth straight Prospect Fall Classic on Saturday morning with 81 points.
New Trier was second with 65 points, while Highland Park took third at 46. Area teams Prospect, Buffalo Grove, St. Viator, Hersey, Rolling Meadows and Conant also competed in the 16-team Prospect High School staple.
Although it lost top players in Kendall Kirsch and Kaitlyn Dong, both top seeds in the state tournament last year, Stevenson showed it's got another contender this fall.
The Patriots sent all seven positions into the finals and won six of them.
"Last year we lost seven seniors, and we had to replace them with a lot of underclassmen this year," said Stevenson coach Tom Stanhope. "We try to play the best competition we can on the weekend. We don't see New Trier that often. We saw a lot of defaults (Saturday), but it's still good for the kids to have four matches in one day."
Reigning state doubles champion Vinaya Rao/Katherine Harvey went to work and did not disappoint, as they won the No. 1 doubles finals. The Patriots duo notched wins against Deerfield's Rubin/Borovsky 6-1, 6-0, Buffalo Grove's Dasha Ignatova/Kina Tamai 6-4, 6-0 and Loyola's Hines/Witkowski 6-3, 6-4 before topping New Trier's Catherine MacKinnon/Laura Swenson 6-0, 6-1 for the championship.
Stevenson's Zoe Taylor, who was part of the other Patriots' other doubles team that made a deep tourney run last year, is now the Pats' No. 1 singles player. She was a champion Saturday, improving her record to 19-0. Taylor defeated Moline's Kate Helms 6-0, 6-0, Deerfield's Jamie Jones 6-3, 6-1, Libertyville's Dani Blaser 6-1, 6-1 and New Trier's Cammy Frei 6-1, 6-1.
"Vinaya and Kate were a surprise last year," said Stanhope. "They bring the burden of feeling that pressure. It's been a challenge to make them play looser. Now that they have a couple losses, it may take the pressure off. We're happy to let another team have the pressure. (Rao/Harvey) played really well. They showed glimpses of the way they played last year.
"Zoe worked really hard in the off-season. She had a good summer in the USTA circuit, and it's carrying over. She's really showing it against some of the top players. When the competition has been tough, she's played well."
Other Stevenson champions include No. 2 singles (Dhawni Kumar), No. 2 doubles (Alexandra Zourbareva/Elizabeth Ferdman), No. 3 singles (Maria Sarabia) and No. 4 doubles (Samantha Burger/Bronwyn Heidkamp).
Of the Mid-Suburban League teams, Buffalo Grove finished the highest in the standings at eighth place with 26 points.
Fremd had a third-place finish from its sophomore No. 1 doubles team, Kate Bodensteiner/Julia Smiarowska.
"I thought we did a really good job," said Fremd coach Lauren Hall. "It's always hard against the top teams in the state. I thought the girls battled, especially our no. 1 doubles team and no. 3 singles (Nanase Sato), and they're getting prepared for conference. I'm very happy with (Bodensteiner/Smiarowska) getting experience in these Saturday matches. With a younger team, each match they get more confident and they're getting more excited."
Buffalo Grove saw a strong performance from No. 3 singles player Jessica Prus, who took fourth place.
"Most of our girls got two wins and made good strides while playing good teams," said Buffalo Grove coach Kevin Schrammel. "I'm happy for Jessica, and the day overall."
The MSL tournament is just two weeks away, and teams are trying to make the most of the weekend tournaments to prepare.
"We had a better weekend than the last," said Prospect coach Mike McColaugh. "Our girls felt like they belong. It's nice to get a sneak peek of what we'll see in two weeks, and I think there will be a lot of exciting matches (in the MSL tournament)."