Girls tennis: Scouting Lake County

  • Wauconda's Sarah Hackman competes during the girls tennis state singles preliminaries at Palatine High School last season. Hackman returns to the lineup for her junior season with the Bulldogs this fall.

    Wauconda's Sarah Hackman competes during the girls tennis state singles preliminaries at Palatine High School last season. Hackman returns to the lineup for her junior season with the Bulldogs this fall. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

By John Phelps
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/1/2016 12:26 PM




Coach: Ted Heiser (1st year)

Last season: 4-10

Key players lost: Brenna Casey, Paige Saverese, Anna Lueken

Top returning players: Senior Emilia Talar; juniors Laura Zborovsky, Jordan Dickson, and Lea McCoy; sophomores Sophia de la Reyes, and Masha Ignatenko.

Notable additions: Seniors Miriam Chung, Danna Tabachnik, and Morgan Kaplan; junior Nicole Pawlik; sophomores Anna Biergans, Lydia Snyder.

Season outlook: First-year coach Ted Heiser's troops have a nice blend of youth and experience, but learning on the fly seems to be the theme this fall. "The younger players and the team as a whole are improving with every practice and match played," Heiser said. "We expect to finish in the middle of the pack, even with the newly revamped and highly competitive conference." As a freshman, Sophia de la Reyes gained valuable experience playing No. 1 doubles with the graduated Brenna Casey, last year's standout. "They fell one match short of a state qualification bid," said Heiser. "Sophia looks to have a strong year as our top singles player." Returning players Masha Ignatenko, Jordan Dickson, Laura Zborosvky, Lea McCoy and Emilia Talar will battle for the remaining top singles and doubles positions. Meanwhile, newcomers Miriam Chung, Anna Biergans, Lydia Snyder, Danna Tabachnik, Nicole Pawlik and Morgan Kaplan will round out the team and keep the competition level high as the Bears develop throughout the season.


Coach: Dan Kiernan (12th year)

Last season: 10-6 overall, 6-2 in NSC Lake, 3rd in NSC, 2nd in sectional

Top returning players: Seniors Dani Blaser, Tanvi Patel, Callie Klein, Lauren Paulson and Arthi Sekharan

Top newcomers: Fr. Kiley Nolan

Season outlook: The Cats are looking toward having strong representation at the state meet later this fall. Gabby Struik graduated this past spring, but coach Dan Kiernan has three returning players with experience at the state level. Tanvi Patel was a state qualifier at No. 1 doubles a year ago, while Dani Blaser returns as one of the top singles players in the area. "Dani has put a lot of time in on the court and was our top singles player last year going 31-13," said Kiernan. Callie Klein, who was sidelined last year with back surgery, teamed with Blaser as a sophomore to finish in the top-24 at state two years ago. "(Callie) is a very accomplished player who has dedicated herself to having a great senior year," said Kiernan. Kiley Nolan is a promising newcomer who will most likely play singles, according to the coach. "We feel a third-place finish in conference is doable," noted Kiernan. "We have a large group of seniors this year and expect to do well overall. Depending on our sectional placement, we will be stronger in doubles than singles and will definitely be a little stronger than last year with the return of Klein." Lauren Paulson and Arthi Sekharan are also expected to do well in top spots. "Hopefully our experience level can pay dividends this year," Kiernan said.

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Coach: Shelley Majewski (2nd year)

Top returning players: Seniors Kelli Cigelnik, Cindy Garcia, Kalli Majewski, and Jessica Peterson; junior Bree Park; sophomore Isabel Alviar

Season outlook: Coach Shelley Majewski stepped in to take over the boys program last spring and now begins her first campaign with the girls squad. The Mustangs boast a nice mixture of experience and youth this fall with Kelli Cigelnik, Cindy Garcia, Kalli Majewski and Jessica Peterson returning for their senior campaigns. Senior Maritza Castro and sophomores Maggie Lukas and Abbie Walter have moved up from JV and add plenty of depth. The youth movement is also in full swing with the addition of freshman Kylie Brua and Mikayla Edquiban. "The girls have incredible drive and determination," said Majewski. "They have a very positive attitude, are focused and energetic, and have worked really hard over the summer to improve their games. We look forward to some terrific matches and competitive tennis this season."


Coach: Tom Stanhope (7th year)

Last season: 16-1, NSC champs, sectional champions, 2nd place at state

Key losses: Vinaya Rao (Carnegie Mellon)

Top returning players: Senior Dhwani Kumar; junior Kate Harvey; sophomores Sasha Zoubareva and Elizabeth Ferdman

Notable additions: Freshman Gina Kondos and Athena Kolli

Season outlook: It's plain and simple where the Lady Pats' laurels lie as the goals haven't changed from years past. "Our three success goals are to win the conference, qualify the entire team for state, and to win a state championship," said coach Tom Stanhope, whose girls came pretty darn close to that a year ago finishing runner-up. With the conference realignment, matches will now feature three singles and four doubles, which should nice dividends when it comes to Stevenson's depth. "We'll be able to play three more position players now, all whom have a lot of tournament experience," said Stanhope. Stevenson has a rigorous schedule, which will also pay off come October. "We scheduled tough matches against teams that we're likely to see in our sectionals," coach added. "These are opportunities to build a record and learn everything that we can leading up to the state series. We expect to be playing our best tennis of the year in October."



Coach: Vince DeSecki (15th year)

Last season: 3rd in NSC meet

Top returning players: Seniors Abby Oye, Marissa Matimore, Olivia Chen, Kristina Danos and Lily Honnold; juniors Britta Johnson, Zoe Serelis, Ayusha Ayalur. sophomore Frankie Grimes

Top newcomers: Junior Sruthi Jayanti, Emily Johnson, and Courtney Odden; sophomores Ally Kolar and Linsy Jante; freshman Sabrina Mella

Season outlook: The Blue Devils are sitting pretty this fall, especially with the addition of nationally ranked freshman Sabrina Mella joining the program. "She will anchor our singles lineup along with Ayusha Ayalur and Frankie Grimes, who is only a sophomore," said coach Vince DeSecki. But experience is also at a premium for Warren, which returns its top doubles team in state qualifiers Kristina Danos and Lily Honnold. Britta Johnson and Zoe Serelis will also add potency to doubles. DeSecki said Linsy Jante and Ally Kolar, only sophomores, have moved up to varsity and looking to make a strong contribution to the team. "Our goal this year is to finish in the top-3 in the conference and qualify as many players as we can for the state tournament," said DeSecki. "We have a great group of girls who love to play tennis, love to compete, and will no doubt get better with every week of competition."



Coach: Jamie D'Andrea (3rd year)

Last season: Antioch sectional champions, Spirit of The Northwest champions, 2nd in Grayslake Central Invite, fifth in Lakes Invite, eighth in NSC meet

Key losses: Anna Arden (No. 1 doubles) and Annie Horner (No. 2 doubles)

Top returning players: Seniors Sjana Henderson and Emma DeJong; junior Kelsey Neville

Notable additions: Sophomore Piper Foote; freshman Sierra Ward

Season outlook: The sectional champs feature three returning state qualifiers: Kelsey Neville, Sjana Henderson and Emma DeJong. Which means the Sequoits are looking to equal or even surpass the efforts from a history-making season a year ago. "We have most of our key players returning, and our varsity additions look to be strong in their positions," said coach Jamie D'Andrea. The coach said moving to the two-class system for state tournament will be beneficial. "The hope is that at least both singles players qualify for state again this year, though I'm confident one or both of our doubles teams will also qualify," D'Andrea said. "We should be pretty strong in the new conference, and we're hoping our consistency throughout the lineup will help win matches against other conference schools. I keep telling the girls that our goal this season is to make history, and since this is the first year of the NLCC, what better way to make our mark than to finish first in the conference." Senior Elizabeth Gardner and junior Gabby Palm lead a mix of returning players who improved noticeably over the summer and will make the lineup even more potent.


Coach: Shea Wintersteen (5th year)

Last season: 5-8, 3rd in Auburn invite, 3rd in Spirit of The Northwest, 4th in sectional

Key losses: Katerina Antonishina, Alyssa Veness, Jasmine Syed

Top returning players: Seniors Gaby Schoenberg, Kyrsten Bruce, Emily Bajerski, and Jasmin Robles

Notable additions: Freshman Elis Lelchuk

Season outlook: Last season was one of the most competitive seasons in recent years for the Grant girls tennis program. Three-time state qualifier Gaby Schoenberg was a shoe-in for a medal at each weekend tournament, while Katerina Antonishina (graduated) was a potential medal-earning candidate as well. "Everyone appeared to be in a contention for a medal at all positions for each weekend tournament last year," Bulldogs coach Shea Wintersteen said. "But with six seniors graduating last year -- four of them starters -- it's going to tough to fill the old positions." The only freshman on the roster, Elis Lelchuk will play as high as No. 2 singles.


Coach: Chuck Lawson (10th year)

Last season: 7-5, 4th in sectional, 5th in Fox Valley Conference

Key players lost: Nikki Tatsuguchi and Kelsey Littner

Top returning players: Seniors Arva Reddy, Katie Murphy, Kathrene Tolentino, Jessica Kula and Fran Tolentino; juniors Lia Boucek, Trisha Yen, Danielle Kapley and May Schimanski

Season outlook: These are exciting times for the Rams, who get to compete a little closer to home after joining the revamped Northern Lake County Conference. Lia Boucek leads the way after qualifying for state in singles last fall. Fran Tolentino and Arva Reddy are also looking for a strong season at singles as well. Doubles are looking strong with the return of Jessica Kula and Kathrene Tolentino at No. 1, while Trisha Yen and Danielle Kapley are solid playing No. 2. With the move to the new conference and hence two-class system with three doubles contests figuring into the match, the No. 3 doubles team of May Schimanski and Katie Murphy could surprise a lot of people. "I feel we're going to be very competitive in the new conference," coach Chuck Lawson said.


Coach: Jill Tomasello (11th year)

Last season: 6-11, 3rd in Grayslake Central tournament, 9th in Fox Valley Conference, 9th in Lakes invite, 5th in sectional

Key players lost: Charlotte Muehlman (College of Lake County), Abby Rice, Emma Krostal, Sivani Gullapalli, Paige Proessel

Key returning players: Seniors Emma Indlecoffer, Catie Dole and Anne Scoltock; junior Taylor Spiewak

Notable additions: Sophomore Lucy Dalton

Season outlook: This will be a building year for the Knights, who lost seven seniors to graduation, six of which played in the starting lineup last year. "We are trying to figure out new positions and new doubles combinations," said coach Jill Tomasello. "However, we are looking forward to the change from the Fox Valley Conference to the new Northern Lake County Conference. We think this will be a really exciting change for all the sports in our school and we are really hoping that we will be able to finish in the top half of our new conference." Catie Dole looks to play No. 1 singles, while Taylor Spiewak will play No. 2. Emma Indlecoffer and Anne Scoltock can play either singles or doubles, while Dole and Spiewak will provide some punch and depth to the singles lineup. The Lady Knighs got off to a blazing start with a 7-0 win over McHenry but have come back down to earth a little bit after falling in the last three matches, including a nail-biting 4-3 home loss to Woodstock North.


Coach: Bryan Plinske (11th year)

Last season: 8-6, 3rd in NSC Prairie, 12th in NSC meet, 5th in sectional

Key losses: Ally Perdue and Liana Lopez

Top returning players: Seniors Sydney Misiek (No. 1 doubles), Sarah Gattone (No. 1 doubles), Madison Tryner (No. 2 doubles), Sarah Gajda (No. 2 doubles); and Alyssa Matthews (No. 1 singles)

Notable additions: Senior Kyla Knauf; sophomores Kylie Jozwik, Molly Monson, Melissa Variny, Nicole Jones, Natlie Grolmes

Season outlook: According to coach Bryan Plinske, "the end of the season is hard to see. With the new conference (NLCC) and with the state moving to a two class system, most of the routines have to be thrown out: it is a whole new ballgame. The new conference should be awesome for competitive tennis. There are going to be some hard-fought matches and one mistake could be the difference between winning and losing. I think our mental toughness, though, will be key and we have a good core of seniors with a great deal of experience. But we're focused on mental strength and skills this season. The season can be a grind, so we've been working on targeting specific skills to improve and building shots that should help us win." A solid core of seniors have stepped up and embraced leadership, Plinske added.


Coach: Atom Davis (6th year)

Last season: 14th in NSC

Key losses: Jackie Schmidt and Taylor Schneider

Top returning players: Junior Dariana Ortiz; Sophomores Susan Albor and Tays Rodriguez

Season outlook: The newly formed conference essentially means a fresh start for the Panthers. It will be a learning curve, though, with many new faces for coach Atom Davis and his troops. Dariana Ortiz returns and looks to have a solid year playing No. 1 doubles, while sophomores Susan Albor and Tays Rodriguez add some depth at the singles positions. "We have a huge turnaround with a lot of new faces," said Davis, whose team dropped a close decision to Johnsburg earlier in the week. "Our goal is for these players to step in and become new leaders for the team. It's going to be a struggle this year but we are going to work hard."


Coach: Ryan Whitfield (2nd year)

Last season: 8-8, 5th in NSC Prairie, 6th in sectional, 53rd in state tournament

Key players lost: Marissa Miller, Janvee Patel, Alison Beeman, Nikki Fehns, Brianna Zukowski, Katie Miller

Key returning players: Seniors Emma Lewandowski, Jessica Diol and Katie Odell; juniors Sarah Hackman and Hayley Hausherr

Notable additions: Seniors Hailey Brew, Charlene Bernardo and Diana Casas; junior Katie Giever; sophomores Taylor Splingaire, and Morgan Bilancia; freshman Grace Lewandowski

Season outlook: The Bulldogs have some high expectations this fall as they begin play in the new Northern Lake County Conference. "We hope to compete for the top-3 in conference and have multiple state qualifiers," said coach Ryan Whitfield. "Our entire singles lineup is intact from last season and they experienced some solid success." Junior Sarah Hackman returns for her third year at the No. 1 singles. She qualified for state for the second straight year and went 3-2 after winning the Cary-Grove sectional. "She looks excellent so far in practice and is primed for a big season," Whitfield said. Senior Emma Lewandowski has shown tremendous growth in the past year as well and is expecting a great senior season after playing her junior year at No. 2 singles. "The biggest difference between this year and last is the amount of work that the entire team put in during the off-season," said Whitfield. "We had a lot of players that took private lessons and our camp numbers doubled from the previous summer. The result is an increase in depth in our lineup. The Bulldogs have been focusing on doubles in the early-going, which was the team's trouble spot if any a year ago. "We have only two doubles players returning from last year, but I think that we will show a big improvement in our doubles play," Whitfield said. "I'm excited to see how (Charlene) Bernardo and (Taylor) Splingaire perform at the No. 1 doubles position. They have looked great in practice and have outstanding chemistry together on the court." Whitfield will look to seniors Jessica Diol and Katie Odell for their leadership. They look to have a big year at No. 2 doubles, while Diana Casas and Katie Giever will be a solid No. 3 doubles. "Their looking great in practice," said Whitfield. "They played well together at the JV level and I am hoping that their success carries over to the varsity. Morgan Bilancia and Grace Lewandowski are new to the varsity and will play No. 4 doubles. "Their experience is more in singles, but I think they have the skills to succeed as a doubles team," Whitfield said. "They have the talent to rise to a higher position as the season progresses."



Coach: Chris Kannenberg (5th year)

Last season: 12-7, 3rd in ESCC, 4th in sectional

Key returning players: Seniors Marie Kapelevich and Karina Falkstrom

Other key players: Seniors Brandi Ropinski, Lauren Williams, Julia Baladad, Megan Bryant, Hannah Byun, Hana Holman; juniors Anamaria Buschman, Eliza Butler, Grace Butz, Michelle Costanzo, Jamie Esperson, Hannah Laughlin, and Reagan McGinn

Season outlook: The Corsairs finished tied for 10th at state two years and were 17-1. Last year, that theme took similar shape when Marie Kapelevich won four matches to finish in the top-15 in singles. Heading into this season, hopes are high again as Kapelevich and Karina Falkstrom could bring home some serious hardware as well. Both are senior captains. The No. 1 doubles duo of Eliza Butler and Julia Baladad along with No. 2 tandem Michelle Costanzo and Anamarie Buschman were among the winners in a victory over Joliet Catholic earlier in the week.



Coach: Doug Gerber (16th year)

Last season: 16-5-1, 6-0 in NSC Prairie, 4th in NSC tournament

Key players lost: Jin-Joo Chung, Kelly Davis, Leah Dosemagen, Isabella Kosoglaz, Kristin Lee, Sneha Sivaram, and Lucy Wu

Key returning players: Seniors Kathy Chen, Ashwini Deshpande, Leah Jacoby, Olivia Jazbutis, Pavani Pandravada, and Jessica Tartakovsky; juniors Sydney Pacer and Weronika Przybylo

Other key players: Seniors Arora Garima, Emily Carido, and Miracle Faller; junior Ria Subramanian

Season outlook: It was a terrific run for the Cougars, who won the NSC Prairie 13 out of 16 years but have now joined the Central Suburban North. The No. 1 tandem of Sydney Pacer and Weronika Przybylo turned some heads last year, finishing with a team-best 22-8 record and taking fifth place in the NSC meet at No. 3 doubles. They will team up again for the third straight year as the No. 1 doubles team. Leah Jacoby and Kathy Chen look to secure a No. 1 or 2 spot in doubles as well, while Olivia Jazbutis and Jessica Tartakovsky return to their roles in leading the charge at singles. "Finding the right positions for the players will be a work in progress for the first few matches of the season," said Doug Gerber, who's served as coach since the school opened in 2001. The Cougars will also compete in the newly formed Class 1A of the state tournament and will get to host their first sectional later this fall.

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