Boys tennis: Naperville Central grabs Pitchford 32 lead
With all the players back from a sixth-place state-placing boys tennis team, things have gone very well for Naperville Central this spring.
Junior Ryan Roegner inspired a strong first day of play at the prestigious Pitchford 32 Invite on Friday to send the Redhawks home with the lead in the prestigious 32-team field with 44 points.
New Trier and Highland Park are on the heels of Central with 40 points, followed by Stevenson and Glenbrook North at 36.
"If we stay healthy and all play at a level we're each capable of, there's no reason we cannot be in the race for a state title," said Roegner, who defeated a trio of opponents with straight-set victories to set up a quarterfinal match with 1-2 seed Mark Wu of Glenbrook North.
Play continues at 8 a.m. Saturday, with all four levels in the championship draw to be played at host Hersey in Arlington Heights. Consolation matches take place at Buffalo Grove, Palatine, Prospect and Rolling Meadows.
Roegner's teammates at doubles, Bill Zhang and Martin Matov, showed why they were a 3-4 seed this weekend as they defeated Lake Forest (Armstrong/Polender) 1-6, 6-2, 10-3 and next face 1-2 seed Edwardsville (Alex Gray/Zach Trimpe) in a quarterfinal.
"With us, it's all about great chemistry, both on and off the court," said Matov, who last year at the state tournament made the consolation quarterfinals with teammate Ammaar Saeed.
Zhang won four matches at state, while Roegner, in his first appearance there, was 3-2 overall.
With concerns for rainy weather threatening to wash away the opening day, it was instead darkness which forced several matches from being completed.
One of those was 3-4 Stevenson seed Matt Harvey/Brian Weisberg in a battle at Buffalo Grove with 5-8 seed Peter Alex/Namit Sambare of Hinsdale South.
The Hornets will look to close out the Patriots' duo Saturday morning as they enter with a 6-2 first-set victory and a 2-0 lead in the second.
"This tournament is like a mini state tournament, so it is important for us to come in here and play real well to help us improve our seed position for the state tournament," said Sambare, who went 4-2 last year along with Rohan Chinwalla during their appearance at state.
"I wasn't able to qualify after doing so my freshman year, so to be able to play with Namit this year, a very good friend of mine, is a great thing for me," said Alex, who will play next year at Augustana.
The Alex/Sambare team won the high profile championship at the Jay Kramer Invite last weekend at Hinsdale Central.
Should the Hornets pair advance, they would play 1-2 seed Trevor Hamilton/Andrew Buhelos of Hinsdale Central.
Stevenson is sitting pretty with its three other entrants, including its top two players at singles, Zach Kim and Sam Komis.
Kim will take on 3-4 seed Jake Elliot of Hinsdale Central in a match that never got starter after the Red Devils junior was extended in his second-round match with Jack Bernstein.
Komis conceded just six games during a trio of straight set victories to set up a quarterfinal with 1-2 seed Jeremy Learner of Highland Park at No. 2 singles.
Jacob Edelchik of Highland Park awaits the Kim-Elliott winner.
Last year, rain cancelled the entire second day of play with Glenbrook North, Highland Park, Hinsdale Central and New Trier each finishing with 32 points.