Girls tennis: Barrington enters new territory for sectional play
The Barrington girls tennis team has two interesting storylines heading into Friday and Saturday's Class 2A Jacobs sectional in Algonquin.
For starters, the Mid-Suburban League-champion Fillies are venturing into new territory in this sectional, which is filled with predominantly Fox Valley Conference schools plus a couple from the Northern Lake County Conference.
"We don't see many of these teams during the regular season and it's a great experience for us to compare to see how many mutual schools we've played during the season," Barrington coach Heather Graham said.
Graham also happens to be a Jacobs graduate and played for current Golden Eagles coach Jon Betts.
Barrington took home five MSL championships last weekend, including a sweep of the doubles division. The No. 1 doubles team of Amani Alvi and Priya Shah and the No. 2 team of Abby Carl and Olivia Paik were among those titlists. No. 2 singles player Caitlin Kavanaugh, a freshman, took second in the conference.
"I think all of our six players have a great opportunity to place in the Top 4 positions and move onto state," Graham said. "My ultimate goal is to see if we can have all six players qualify. Since we didn't have state last year, it would be great to bring our players there this year."
Graham has been thrilled with the progress of Alvi and Shah at No. 1 doubles. Alvi has been on the varsity the past two years playing first and second doubles, while Shah was third doubles last year.
"Amani is able to adapt with a new partner each year. She is strong at the net and is not afraid to attack balls and put them away," Graham said. "Priya was at third doubles last year and moved her way up to No. 1 this year. She is a strong competitor because she goes after every ball and always gets a racket on it. They make such a dynamic duo since they are great partners on the court and great friends off the court."
The majority of MSL teams will head to the Fremd sectional that includes the host Vikings, Hersey, Buffalo Grove, Prospect, Palatine, Rolling Meadows and Wheeling.
Prospect finished second in the MSL tournament last weekend where the Knights No. 1 doubles team of seniors Natalie Katsaros and Katherine Doyle (20-9) took second in the conference. They finished second at the sectional a year ago and would have qualified for the state tournament if there had been one.
Prospect coach Mike McColaugh said Katsaros and Doyle are likely looking at a No. 4 sectional seed, "where there are likely three of the top 16 doubles teams in the state," he said.
McColaugh said freshman singles player Kara Pescaru (17-13) has faced everyone in the sectional "and will have a chance to advance," he said. "We are excited once again to challenge some of the area's top talents. Many of our program's top moments from the last three or four years have occurred during sectionals."
Prospect's No. 2 doubles team of Hannah Pescaru and sophomore Lucy Nunez took second in the MSL, while junior No. 2 singles player Cassie Voicu was third at her position last weekend.
Fremd's Gracie Ha won the No. 2 singles title at the MSL tournament, while Sonal Matta was second at No. 1 singles for the Vikings. Fremd won the sectional title a year ago with Ha and Matta winning the doubles championship.
Rolling Meadows tied for seventh overall in the conference. Singles player Amy Orzechowski has won 11 matches and has improved steadily in her first varsity year, coach Jim Gumz said.
"This is a fair, but challenging sectional," Gumz said. "A number of schools have a good chance of qualifying players for the state tournament. This is all you can ask for in a sectional competition."
Wheeling will be led by the No. 1 doubles team of seniors Sonia Lugo and Hannah Rio, along with singles players Jackie Aguero and freshman Sara Durmisevic. "I look forward to seeing Jackie pull off a lot of surprises and leave everything out on the court to culminate her senior year," Wheeling coach Sandrine Chomereau-Lamotte said. "It will be exciting to see Sara apply her consistency and strategic knowledge in the most competitive matches of her season. Sonia and Hannah have a very positive and strong team mentality and have grown immensely in our program over the years. They enjoy the ups and downs of competition and they will compete at their highest levels at the sectionals. We have a tough sectional and we are going to fight to stay in it and have fun."
Singles player Ria Iyer had Palatine's highest finish at the MSL tournament. "We had a great season with victories that go beyond the scoreboard," Palatine coach Karla Robles said. "I am looking forward to seeing our team compete with those values at sectionals."
Hoffman Estates, Conant and Schaumburg head to the Lake Park sectional in Roselle, while Maine South will host a sectional that also features Elk Grove, Maine East and Maine West, plus both Glenbrook schools.
Conant freshman singles standout Katie Strilich won the MSL No. 1 singles title last weekend.
Maine South coach Jerry Smith feels this sectional is one of the toughest, if not the toughest sectional in the state. Smith has Eva Zaskowski (22-12) and Mina Radosavlajevic (15 wins) slated at No. 1 doubles, while Amelia Stanek (20-14) and Mia Lee (15 wins) will combine at No. 2 doubles. Madeline Pankrantz and Laura Mileski are the Hawks' single entrants.
"I am hoping our doubles and singles players can put together some great performances," Smith said. "I think we are playing our best tennis collectively and we're excited to see how we match up."
Maine West coach Tricia Detig likes how singles players Lilliam Dockal and Emily Halat are playing. Dockal (16-5) finished second at No. 1 singles in the Central Suburban North tournament, while Halat (21-6) was second at No. 2 singles.
"Lilli finished first in our sectional last season and I feel like she has developed into an even stronger player this season," Detig said. "Emily has experienced a lot of success this season and gets stronger and more consistent with every opponent she faces."
Elk Grove's Peyton Oda is 24-6 and took third in the MSL at No. 1 singles. She is looking for her fourth state qualification. "Last year Peyton had a strong showing at sectionals (second place)," Grens coach Lindsey Rapinchuk said. "It was disappointing to be unable to participate in the state tournament due to COVID-19, but I am looking forward to the postseason this year."
Leyden also is hosting a sectional on its new eight-court lighted facility.
"We have a tough sectional with several very good tennis programs," Eagles coach Joe Hamilton said. "We currently have two of our better players out with injuries and will be going into the sectional playing some young players with a little varsity playing experience. It will be a great opportunity for our kids to get the chance to play against some top competition."
The top four singles players and the top four doubles teams advance to next week's state tournament hosted by Buffalo Grove.
St. Viator is part of the Class 1A Wheaton St. Francis sectional. The Lions are fresh off strong conference showings from No. 1 singles player Mai Nowicki (second), the No. 1 doubles team of Ally Jodoin and Meredith Garcia (third). Nowicki is 22-9, while the Jodoin-Garcia pairing is 24-9, helping Viator to its strongest conference showing in eight years.
"With the talent we have at No. 1 singles and doubles, they could be strong contenders at sectionals and hopefully state," Lions coach Mary Louise Blaney said. "Their games have continues to improve and grow stronger throughout the season. We have several challenging schools in our sectional and have played the big contenders. We match up well and hope to get high seeds for our No. 1 doubles and singles players."