Boys tennis: Bush, Patriots excel in sectional tests
During his first three seasons playing tennis for Stevenson, Benjamin Bush was a part of three consecutive sectional championships.
Make it four.
Bush helped his teammates lift the big trophy once again Saturday at the Vernon Hills Athletic Center after the Patriots outscored a field of nine others.
The University of Wisconsin-bound Bush and his partner, Sam Komis, fell in the finals to teammates Brian Weisberg/Matt Harvey 6-4, 6-1 to perhaps move them closer to a 3-4 seed from the tournament committee.
"It really is hard to believe that this is my last sectional tournament and fourth tournament appearance," Bush said. "But I'm thrilled to be going back and really happy for Sam and his first trip to the tournament."
The dynamic duo of Weisberg/Harvey (25-4) might be hitting its collective stride at the right time, according to coach Tom Stanhope.
"They are finally playing doubles like we knew they could," Stanhope said. "When you think that two of their losses were (to) the defending state champs (Deerfield's Chris Casati/Niko Wasilewicz), it shows they are right there with the other top doubles teams."
Stevenson freshman Zach Kim (22-7) played as if he were an upperclassmen all throughout the two-day contest. He put an exclamation point on his first sectional tournament with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Wauconda sophomore Brian Hackman to win the competition at singles.
"All I was thinking about at the start of the season was whether could I make the varsity starting lineup," Kim said. "So it's still hard to believe that I'll be at state next weekend along with our two doubles teams."
Hackman (30-4) became the first in Wauconda history to reach the big tournament after his hard-fought victory over NSC rival Aswath Viswanathan of Stevenson. That came in advance of his three-set win over Bert Cao (19-9) of Libertyville to send him into his final with Kim.
"It's a great feeling to be the first to make it to state for our boys program," Hackman said. "(It's) what you work for. Even though I know there's still a lot of work ahead of me, I cannot wait to be playing next week against all of the great talent in the state."
Hackman's win over Cao took 2½ hours to complete.
"Bert dictated the points in our first set. Not me," Hackman said. "But things turned around after that to help me take a foothold of the next two sets to get the win."
"I told Brian that was a good match for him because it replicates what things might and could be like next week at state," Wauconda coach Ryan Whitfield said. "Today's test will help prepare him for more tests in a few days."
Barrington freshman Dylan Er (19-13) bounced back in style after losing his semifinal to Kim, as he defeated Cao, 6-1, 6-3 to capture third-place honors.
"Dylan has elevated his play during the last three weeks," Broncos coach John Roncome said. "We obviously are very pleased and proud of his effort here during the past two days and look forward to watching him play in the state tournament for the first time."
Libertyville sent both of its doubles teams through, with their No. 1 team of Scott Daluga/Ken Herrmann (15-11) upending teammates Julian Janczak/Hayden Friese 6-1, 6-2 for third place.
"I am so excited about playing in the tournament," the senior Daluga said. "It's a time when anything can happen, and that's what Ken and I are going to try to do right from the start."
Daluga qualified during his rookie season. Janczak advanced last season and went 2-2 along with Michael Gasick.