Boys tennis: Deerfield measures up well against Stevenson, Fremd
Host Deerfield went 3-0 against strong boys tennis teams from Fremd, Lake Forest and Stevenson, using a 5-2 win over the Patriots to complete their unbeaten Saturday.
Deerfield was without its No. 1 player at singles, so coach Josh Leighton moved half of his state doubles championship team, Chris Casati, to handle things in place of Vuk Budic.
"We had talked about maybe splitting up Chris and Niko (Wasilewicz) and then moving some of the other parts around, but our sectional is so ridiculous, a move like that may hurt our chances even more to get people through," said Leighton.
Earlier in the week, the reigning state champs fell to Glenbrook South's Rohan Gupta/Sebby DesRoberts, beginning a chain reaction of sorts where results could have a big impact at next month's Highland Park sectional seeds.
Deerfield, Glenbrook North and South, Highland Park and Lake Forest are all part of what is easily the toughest sectional in the state this spring.
Tom Stanhope's team from Stevenson went 1-2, dropping its opener to North Suburban rival Lake Forest before bouncing back with a 5-2 victory over Fremd.
"Our three freshmen played well today, and so did our one dubs team (three-time state qualifier Ben Bush and Sam Komis) along with our No. 2 team, but we still have a lot of work to do," said Stanhope.
Fremd's Matt Duncan knew what his young club was in for on Saturday, but despite going winless on the day, things are still on the upswing for the Vikings and its head coach.
"This was our litmus test today -- a real barometer of where we are just a couple of weeks into the season," said Duncan. "Last year we got blown away by the competition, but today we played very well in spots against three quality opponents, while giving our young guys a chance to see where they're at right now."
Fremd freshmen Kazuki Matsumo managed a win over Zach Kim of Stevenson.
at Maine South: Without three-time state qualifier Kailash Panchapakesan in the lineup, Jacobs fell short at the eight-team Maine South Invite in Park Ridge. But Jon Betts' No. 1 doubles team of Kendrick and Kerwin Chong carried off a first-place trophy after defeating Loyola in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.
"Science Olympiad falls on this same weekend every year, and we lost Kailash to it but still had a good tournament overall with our guys at Nos. 1 and 3 singles, plus No. 3 dubs all losing to the top seeds here," said Betts.
"It's all about the team once again this year," said Kendrick Chong, who along with his brother (Kerwin) went 3-2 at the state tournament last season, "as the goal and expectation to win a third consecutive sectional title is something all of us is after."
"As our No. 1 team this year, the competition is so much better than ever before," said Kerwin Chong, a sophomore, "but both of us feel that our communication and chemistry out on the court is a reason for our success thus far."
The Jacobs duo was a dazzling 37-2 a year ago to help Betts' club in its best in program history, including a 17th-place finish at the state tourney.
Loyola won the team title, while Batavia took second, followed by Jacobs.
Three-time Mid-Suburban League champ Mack Galvin (Rolling Meadows) defeated Maine South sophomore star Danilo Kovacevic, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5), 6-1 to win top honors at No. 1 singles.
"What a great match," said Galvin, a three-time state qualifier. "The turning point was at 3-1 in the second set tiebreaker, where I was to shake him loose and just take off from there. All of that extra conditioning that I've been doing saved me in that match, as I was able to hold out a little longer than Danilo, who is a great player."
Batavia coach Brad Nelson liked what he saw from his Bulldogs on Saturday.
"All positions won two of three matches today, led by a second-place finish from our three dubs team (Maren-McClure), and Tony (Marino) was great today at two singles," said Nelson.
Marino claimed a third-place medal, coming back from a first-set loss to York to grab the next two sets (6-1, 6-0). Teammate Cam Marback fired back from a tough opening round loss to win his next two at No. 1.
The Bulldogs' top doubles team of Emerson Hinzy and Andrew Nelson won their last two after falling in the first round in three sets.
Nelson was a state qualifier one year ago, along with Adam Maris.
Maine West's No. 1 doubles team of Henry Nguyen and Jason Elangical got themselves a third-place medal after defeating Niles West.
at Prospect: The annual Knight Invite hosted by Prospect was an all-star event featuring six teams which finished in the top 20 last year at the state tournament.
This year's favorite to win it all in late May, New Trier, could not match the firepower of Central Suburban rival Highland Park. The Giant won with 31 points, and New Trier had 22.
Highland Park was missing two-time state doubles qualifier David Aizenberg, who is close to returning from a shoulder injury. His imminent return, along with a healthy Jacob Edelchik (flu) will give the Giants more than a fighting chance when the state tournament series begins in one month.
Libertyville junior, Stefano Tsorotiotis impressed in all three of his matches played at Harper College, including his final with New Trier senior Michal Kusznerko to help the Wildcats earn third place with 15.5 points, 3 more than both Normal U-High and Oak Park-River Forest.
Barrington was sixth with 9.5 points.
The Wildcats standout, who in his freshman season finished fourth overall before just missing a state medal last season, is favored to win a singles title May -- if one key adjustment can be made.
"I've got the physical talent to win a state title, but it's all about the mental part of my game," said Tsorotiotis. "And to be honest, it just hasn't been where it's needed to be in my first two years of playing for Libertyville."
"I love playing high school tennis. That's the main reason that I'm back this spring. I learned a lot about myself last year, when sometimes the slightest thing would set me off. And my opponents, and coaches would see that, and it would end up costing me games and matches that I knew that I could win."
Tsorotiotis has a skill set few can match, and Kusznerko, who sat out the last two seasons in favor of USTA play, saw it first hand, falling 6-1, 6-2.
"I wish we had Michal back for another year, but I am also happy that Stefano is back this season, because if he plays to his potential he is the best in the state this year," said New Trier coach Tad Eckert, who sent half of his team to compete in Wisconsin this weekend, including 2015 state qualifiers, Scott and Bill Bickel, as well as Jeffrey Chen.
MSL champion Barrington, with nearly an entire new cast this spring after being hit hard by graduation, finished sixth overall overall, followed by Warren and tourney host Prospect.
"We're in a bit of flux right now, but we've got a good looking roster that will go through some growing pains, and a few changes here and there in our starting lineup to get us ready for the final month of the season," said Broncos coach John Roncone, whose freshman at No. 1 singles, Dylan Er, finished fifth.
It doesn't get easier for the Broncos next weekend as they play in the high-profile Jay Kramer Invite at Hinsdale Central.
Prospect, meanwhile, welcomes a seven-team field to another invitational it will host.