Girls tennis: Another elite effort from Stevenson
Call it business as usual for the Stevenson girls tennis team.
The Patriots solidified themselves once again as one of the top programs in the state by finishing runner-up to Hinsdale Central in the Class 2A state meet at Buffalo Grove on Saturday.
"Besides working hard, our motto this season has been, 'Play until you drop,' " said coach Tom Stanhope, whose Patriots were also second at state a year ago. "Everyone exceeded their seed and, as a coach, you can't ask for more than that. These girls have been great."
While all six of its state qualifiers played well for Stevenson, the doubles team of sophomore Elizabeth Ferdman and freshman Gina Kondos made the biggest splash. They took home the third-place medal by defeating Edwardsville's Grace Desse and Morgan Colbert 6-2, 6-3.
"Stevenson's been known for doing well at state and we just wanted to try and uphold that tradition," Kondos said. "We played really aggressive today and left it all on the court."
Ferdman echoed her teammate's sentiments.
"We're so happy we got so far," she said. "We sometimes start off slow and needed to wake up. Positivity helped keep us going throughout the tournament."
Stevenson's doubles team of senior Paige Nierman and junior Kate Harvey won four matches before falling to New Trier's Michelle Capone and Amia Ross 6-7 (3), 6-2, 10-7 in the seventh-round consolation match.
Nierman competed at state for the first time.
"I'm so happy for Paige," Stanhope said. "Being a senior, it was great she was able to be all-state."
In singles action, senior Dhwani Kumar and freshman Athena Kolli also picked up points along the way for Stevenson early in the tournament.
Kumar won three matches before losing in the fifth round consolation, while Kolli picked up a victory before being eliminated in Thursday's opening rounds.
Hinsdale Central won the team title with 29 points, followed by Stevenson and Lyons in second with 25.
In Class 1A, junior Kelsey Neville did Antioch proud by reaching the semifinals.
"I'm so happy," said Neville, who went 29-7 on the season. "I was just hoping to get to Friday, so this was definitely a great end to the season. It'll be a little crazy at school on Monday. I just want to keep getting better."
Neville got off to a blazing start, winning her first four matches before settling for a respectable fourth-place medal. She lost in the third-place match to Chicago University's Dhanya Asokumar 6-0, 6-2.
Neville's finish helped Antioch earn 11 points, good for an 11th place tie. Her fourth-place effort was the best finish for an Antioch player.
"This is really exciting for us," Antioch coach Jamie D'Andrea said. "Kelsey started things last year by helping us win our first sectional title in school history, and we did it again this fall. She's a very low-key player that never gets too up or too down on anything."