Girls tennis: Stevenson takes charge, wins NSC championship
It must be getting close to the postseason, because the tenacity as well as the competitive spirit was turned up a notch at the North Suburban Conference girls tennis tournament held Saturday morning at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.
Take, for instance the championship match at No. 1 doubles, which featured Stevenson's Gina Kondos and Elizabeth Ferdman taking on Libertyville's top tandem of Dani Blaser and Callie Klein.
With all other matches having concluded at least an hour earlier and just about every eye on them, these two teams battled for about 3 hours before Kondos and Ferdman eventually pulled out a grueling 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) victory for the title.
"Wow, what a match -- with sectionals coming up next week, it's been really good to have tight matches like that, especially against Libertyville," said Patriots coach Tom Stanhope, whose team not only won the meet but also earned its fourth straight overall NSC title after having swept the dual-meet portion of the regular season.
"Our best identity is when we play aggressive at the net," said Stanhope. "Libertyville does so well at slowing it down, so we had to play less passively. We started pasting some of the returns."
Stanhope and the troops finished the day with 40 points while Lake Forest was a distant second (26). Warren placed third (16), followed by Libertyville (15.5) and Mundelein (13.5).
With the exception of a 6-0, 6-2 victory from Lake Forest's Kelly Kunz against Stevenson's Hannah Anssari at No. 3 singles, the Pats picked up first-place hardware in the six other championship matches as medals went to the top three.
"Our coaches teach how to prepare and play each opponent and today was very challenging," said Pats senior Dhwani Kumar, who beat Mundelein's Isabel Alviar 6-4, 6-4 for the crown at No. 1 singles.
Kumar won the NSC title and was a state qualifier at No. 2 singles a year ago.
Alviar, just a sophomore, is also no stranger to the state meet and knows how to turn up the heat at this point in the season.
"I thought I played her pretty well," said Alviar, who won sectionals last year and then three matches at the state tournament. "I need to serve better but overall, I'm more solid with my returns, have done a better job preparing and am more aggressive versus where I was a year ago."
Rounding out singles action on Saturday, Stevenson's Athena Kolli outlasted Mundelein's Kalli Majewski 6-2, 6-4 for the crown at No. 2.
Back in doubles, the Pats' Kate Harvey and Paige Nierman beat Lake Forest's Emily Asmussen and Salma Alsikafi 6-3, 6-4 for the title at No. 2 doubles, while Alexandra Zoubareva and Bronwyn Keidkamp cruised Lake Forest's Margaret Davidson and Sara Eichelman 6-1, 6-1 for the title at No. 3 doubles.
Rounding out the near sweep in the championship matches were the Pats' Sam Burger and Alyssa Glaser, who posted a quick 6-2, 6-1 victory over Lake Forest's Grace Gescheidle and Gabrielle Prindle at No. 4 doubles.
Host Warren turned in a solid meet as freshman Sabrina Mella took home a third-place medal after beating Lake Forest's Alex Slomba 6-4, 6-4 at No. 1 singles.
"This was a great tournament for us. Everyone came to compete," said Devils coach Vince DeSecki. "We're getting better and better every match and peaking at the right time. Everyone is contributing points."
Warren's No. 2 doubles team of Britta Johnson and Zoe Serelis out-dueled Libertyville's Tanvi Patel and Kiley Nolan 7-5, 6-3 at No. 2 doubles.
The Devils' Linsy Jante and Frankie Grimes also picked up a third-place medal after gutting out a 6-4, 7-6 (7-4 tiebreaker) victory over Libertyville's Arthi Sekharan and Grace Benner.
Libertyville's Aditi Mehra took home a third-place medal at No. 3 singles after beating Mundelein's Kylie Brua 6-1, 6-0.
The Cats' No. 4 doubles team of sisters Chloe and Hannah Zwirn also came away with a third-place medal after prevailing in a hard-fought 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Warren's Olivia Chen and Abby Oye.
Mid-Suburban: For a 23rd consecutive season, Barrington is the Mid-Suburban League champion. But this time, it was close.
Four Fillies players went to their respective finals on Saturday in the conference tournament at Rolling Meadows, and a total of six Barrington entries brought home medals.
Barrington finished with 53 points, while Fremd was right behind with 48 points. Buffalo Grove and Palatine tied for third with 37. The Fillies had earlier wrapped up another MSL West divisional title, while Buffalo Grove won the East.
Barrington hopes the experience prepares it for a rugged sectional next weekend at Hersey. The field will include most of the MSL teams, plus North Suburban Conference champ Stevenson and Lake Zurich.
"We play in one of the toughest sectionals in the state," Barrington coach Tracy Waters-Miller said. "Singles are loaded, and there are five or six good doubles team. We'll come to play. We just need to stay focused."