Boys tennis: Conant, Fremd have strong days at sectionals
Late morning rain throughout the area sent most sectional boys tennis locations looking for safety at several indoor facilities in order to get the first day of play completed Friday.
At the Conant sectional, tournament officials made the quick decision to move to the River Trails Tennis Center in Arlington Heights and Centre Court in Hanover Park.
Once there, both Conant and Fremd qualified three of four teams into the Class 2A state tournament, dominating play at doubles to make it an all Conant-Fremd semifinal.
When the semifinal round is completed, it will more than likely decide the team championship with Conant currently in front 20-18.
"We're thrilled that Vera Iyer (17-7) is through at singles, and both of our doubles teams but it's going to be real interesting at doubles with our guys and Fremd," said Conant coach Dave Koleno.
Cougars Andrew Milas-Kaahan Motwani will face top seed Ryan Zheng-Arjun Srivasta (21-6) while the other half of the bracket will see the Fremd team of Andrew Yin-Sean Hishinuma (21-7) taking on Roberto Machon-Rameen Marzban.
"Conant got us the first time 5-2 in a dual that had five three-set matches, so we'll look to turn that around today," said Fremd coach Matt Duncan.
Alex Veltkamp (Streamwood), a 2018 state qualifier, will be back again as will his semifinal opponent, Fremd sophomore Casey Hishinuma (18-10).
At the Glenbrook South venue, sophomore Kamil Kozerski (24-2) became the first singles player from Maine West since 2005 to advance to state following his straight-set (6-2, 6-2) victory over his CSL rival from Maine South, Marco Czosnyka.
"Kamil started a little slow playing on the indoor courts of Glenview Tennis Club in his opening match, but he showed a lot of fortitude and composure when he came back so strong in his state qualifying match to win easily," said Warriors coach John Hauenstein. "He came to the net so much better, played with a great deal of confidence, which showed with the way he finished off points."
Kozerski will face No. 2 seed Michael Bukhalo (Glenbrook South, 22-6) when play begins at 9:30 a.m. on the Titans' courts.
It was a good day all the way around for the MSL at Highland Park, where East champion Hersey advanced three of its teams, while Palatine celebrated its first state qualifier in 11 years when sophomore Jackson Spurck came through his side of the bracket.
Top seed and now two-time state qualifier Max Sheldon (27-1) qualified easily as did his doubles teammates Jace Coffaro-Kevin Mi (20-7), who showed why they were anointed the top seed in the doubles field.
"The guys really performed well today, but the big surprise of the day for us was our No. 2 team (Dan Gankov-Kacper Pasielak) who survived a tough opener with Deerfield to get into the qualifying match, where they beat a very good team from Rolling Meadows," said a proud Hersey coach Andy Walton.
"We had Dan and Kacper together at times this season, so we knew what we had with both of them at doubles so we made the move for sectionals and it really paid off."
Walton was just as happy for his MSL counterpart Jim Lange at Palatine, who could be seen smiling from ear-to-ear when his Spurck beat Evan Keating of Deerfield, 6-1, 6-2 in his state qualifying contest at Glenbrook Tennis Club.
"This is a great day for Jackson, and the Palatine tennis program," beamed Lange, who will watch his best player meet No. 2 seed Jeremy Learner in Highland Park.
"We have a real talented group of singles players in the MSL, so when I wasn't able to finish in the top four at conference last weekend, it helped motivate me even more for sectionals," admitted Spurck, who said watching the Marvel Avengers movie gave him the emotional lift to succeed on Friday.
MSL champion Barrington flexed its collective muscle at the Crystal Lake Racquet club and qualified all four of its teams into the semifinals at the Huntley sectional.
Teammates Bradley Yu (21-3) and Ammar Wazir (26-5) have the Jacobs pair of Kyle Burton 35-1) and Thomas Nelson (30-10) up next. At doubles, the Broncos' teams of Matt D'Amore-Dylan Er (25-5) have qualified together for a second consecutive year, while Aryan Sharma-Pranav Gadiraju (10-0) will join them after a 6-0, 6-1 win over Dundee-Crown.
"It's always a nice feeling to have your entire team headed to the state tournament, but now the focus will be to get those same four into the finals to help themselves in the eyes of the seeding committee," said Broncos coach John Roncone.
NSC champion Stevenson will send its full compliment of teams to the state tournament after a dominating performance at the College Park Athletic Club in Lincolnshire at its own sectional.
The Patriots conceded just 11 games to their opponents at singles and doubles, with their dynamic duo of: Zach Kim (21-3) and Eric Perkowski (22-2) leading the way for their teammates at doubles, Payton Adkisson-Daniel Tulchinskiy (21-3) and Arjun Sheelvanth-Ozzie Viswanathan, who are now 15-6 overall.
"This is easily the best team I've been around in my four years here at Stevenson," said Kim, who is off to Northwestern University in the fall. "We have great rapport on and off the courts, we have each other's backs at all times, and we have a lot of fun together, which translates over to our success as a team."
Host Vernon Hills took control when the tournament moved back outside to claim three of four spots in the Class 1A state tournament, including both of its doubles teams.
Freshman Aditya Sabharwal won his qualifying match late Friday afternoon, and will join Pranav Vaswani-Eric Rodriguez and Sujaj Voleti-Cooper Guillaume on the ride to state.
The Fenton doubles team of Jeff Andrews-Kyle Cacioppo (16-9) are also through following their 6-4, 6-1 victory over Carmel Catholic's Johans Baladad-Nathan Schedler.
Jeff Andrews, then a sophomore, qualified two years ago with his brother Joe and would go on to finish top 16.
"Speed, strength and terrific athletic ability is a big reason for the success of Jeff and Kyle," said Bison head coach Jeff Porto.
The Vaswani-Rodriguez team took advantage of an exhausted Northridge Prep team who needed nearly three hours to win its opener before meeting the Cougars' top team in the qualifier.
"We knew they were going to be tired so we moved them around a lot, were strong at the net and never really let up on them until the very end," echoed Vaswani and Rodriguez.
State runner-up Nathan Spear (Northside Prep) looks the part of a potential state champion after he demolished two opponents on his way into the semifinals. He will face Peter Adams-Agresti (Beacon) who ended the state hopes of St. Viator star Matthew McManaman with a 6-4, 7-5 victory.