Boys tennis: State tournament scouting, Northwest and Lake County
Boys tennis: State tournament scouting
When: Thursday through Saturday
Where: Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, with matches on the first two days through the Mid-Suburban League and on Saturday at Hersey.
Local flavorCLASS 2A
Hayden Friese (Libertyville): Took over role as 'Cats No. 1 this spring following a rookie season where he qualified with his former partner, Julian Janczak, going 3-2 overall. Third at NSC tournament two weeks ago. First-round opponent: Shiv Puri (Moline).
Vera Iyer (Conant, 18-5): Cougars sophomore makes it two state tourneys in a row after finishing second at the Schaumburg sectional to 5-8 seed Danilo Kovacevic of Maine South, one week after falling in three sets to Bradley Yu of Barrington in the MSL final. First-round opponent: Jacob Edelchik (Highland Park).
Zach Kim (Stevenson, 20-5): Two-time NSC champ is on his way to a second state appearance, this time as a 9-16 seed after earning a 17-32 seed a year ago. In his rookie season, Kim won 25, including 3 at the state tournament after capturing a sectional crown on the Patriots' home courts. First-round opponent: Joris Bizys (Hinsdale South).
Sam Komis (Stevenson, 25-4): This Patriots junior has enjoyed a breakout season after playing into the seventh round of the consolation bracket along with Benjamin Bush last spring. "Playing doubles really has helped round out my game, but so has the extra work during the off-season to get myself bigger, stronger and more fit in order to play at a higher level," says Komis, who recently won the NSC title at No. 2 singles. First-round opponent: Erik Weiler (Edwardsville).
Cecil Mella (Warren): In first year as the Blue Devils' No. 1, this sophomore finished fourth at the NSC tournament after a straight-set defeat to Friese, then bounced back to beat his conference rival to capture third-place honors last weekend at his own sectional. First-round opponent: Shaddy Khalafallah (Moline).
Andrew Milas (Conant, 17-10): The Cougars freshman makes his first appearance thanks in part to an upset win over former state qualifier and four-year veteran Markos Christoforou of Elk Grove in a state qualifying match last Friday at the Schaumburg sectional. First-round opponent: 5-8 seed, Mark Wu (Glenbrook North).
Bradley Yu (Barrington, 20-6): The Broncos' top man becomes the second straight freshman in the program to advance after Dylan Er last spring. Yu captured an MSL title two weeks ago to help his club win its fifth consecutive conference championship. One victory away from facing No. 2 Jack Randall of Lockport. First-round opponent: Nick Karcynski (Andrew).
Conant (Nico Rosas/Kannan Motwanit, 17-1): It's a third straight state appearance for Rosas, a junior who, along with his teammate Motwanit (playing in state for the first time) won a sectional title to help the Cougars earn a third straight sectional crown. First-round opponent: Homewood-Flossmoor (Will Knox/Perry Hoag).
Conant (Michael Kim/Arjun Rao, 20-10): Kim stepped in for his teammate Motwani at the MSL tournament while Kim was away, and the two came away with a second-place trophy. One week later, Rao advanced for the second time, Kim his first. First-round opponent: Lincoln-Way Central (Joey Isdonas/Brandon Langer)
Libertyville (Kenny Herrmann/Nathan Valley): It's a second straight appearance for Herrmann, a senior who is here with a different partner after winning four matches a year ago with Scott Daluga. Finished third overall at NSC in first full weekend together this season. First-round opponent: Eisenhower (David Souza/Michael Soto).
Schaumburg (Kevin Eberhardt-Max Brito, 22-8): When former Saxons head coach Jason Campbell paired his Nos. 1 and 2 singles guys just before the postseason began, it produced a magical run into the 2016 state tournament. This year, new coach Jon Schaefer didn't mess with success, keeping his best players together to produce another state appearance. The Illinois-bound Eberhardt was named to the Daily Herald All-Academic Team just a few days ago. First-round opponent: Evanston (Alec Avery/Max Newman).
Stevenson (Matt Harvey/Brian Weisman, 17-5): With their impressive and lengthy resume, these four-year veterans add yet another special mention in their dazzling careers. Harvey is here for a fourth time and Weisman a third following a strong performance last weekend at the Cary-Grove sectional. "When those two are playing like they're capable of, they are right there with the best," says Patriots coach Tom Stanhope, who is looking for another deep tournament run from his top team, which is on a collision course with No. 1 Edwardsville (Gray/Trimpe) on Friday. First-round opponent: Glenbrook South (Jacob Adas/Jack Upperman).
Stevenson (Ozzie Viswanathan/Arjun Sheelvanth, 17-9): The Patriots sophomores advanced for their first time, making the decision to pair the two together by coach Stanhope three weeks into the season an outstanding one. Both say their first-place finish at the Buffalo Grove Invite was the turning point in their state-qualifying season. First-round opponent: Belleville West (Drew Boyles/Derek Henke).
Warren (Stefan Radovic/Caleb Gudeman, 19-11): Blue Devils captain Radovic is aproaching 70 career wins, which includes a 3-2 record here a year ago with Brandon Reichel. The junior is also a three-year starter on the Warren hockey team, earning all-conference honors last season. First-round opponent: Quincy (Greysen Arns/Blake Hayden).
Kyle Borst (Sr, St. Viator, 14-14): The Lions senior saved his best for last by earning the first trip to the tournament of his four-year career after holding down the top spot for coach Amy Ritchie these past two seasons. Came back from being down to capture third-place at sectionals to help seal the Lions' best sectional team finish in ten years. First-round opponent: Kevin Zhang (Glenwood).
Kyle Boudreau (Antioch, 25-10): The ultimate student-athlete, this two-time state qualifier has a schedule packed with AP honors classes, while still competing at a high level for coach Jamie D'Andrea. Faced Brian Hackman in four championship matches this season, falling short in each. An 11-game win streak during the middle of the season is one of many highlights for the junior. First-round opponent: Ashwin Yedavalli (Dunlap)
Brian Hackman (Wauconda, 26-1): A sensational sophomore season last year saw this three-year star win 33 times, including three in his first state tourney appearance. On Monday, Hackman won top honors at the Lakes sectional, a week after earning his first conference title. His lone loss of the season came at the hands of 2A standout Danilo Kovacevic, who enters this weekend with a 30-2 overall record. First-round opponent: Peter Smyk (Morris).
Jonathan Paulson (Sr., Carmel): The last of three brothers to play for the Corsairs program, this Illinois-bound youngest Paulson followed former ESCC runners-up siblings RJ (2012) and Craig (2013) to earn his first appearance. First-round opponent: Raymond Richardson (DeLaSalle).
Grayslake Central (Carson Cerquone/Chase Whetham-Starbird): One week after a second-place finish at the first-ever Northern Lake County Conference tournament, the Rams duo overcame a three-set thriller in its sectional opener at Lakes to advance. First-round opponent: Vernon Hills (Matt Nguyen/Nikhil Mangtani).
Lakes (Jack Gotlib/Jackson Hubert, 22-9): Fought back twice from being down (1-4, 2-5) in their state-qualifying match with Grayslake Central to come back to win the match and to nab their postseason appearance by winning five straight games. Gotlib will attend Boston University next fall, Hubert College of Lake County where he will continue to play. First-round opponent: Fenton (Joe Andrews/Jeff Andrews).
St. Viator (Nick Gattuso/Jack Aiello, 18-10): The Lions' No. 2 team rose up to make a statement last weekend at sectionals, giving the club a second state-qualifying team after going nearly 10 years without a one. First-round opponent: Oak Forest (Jordan Ahlgrim/Carter Hamrin).
Wauconda (Connor Splingaire-Andrew Lu, 24-7): The Bulldogs duo joined their singles teammate Hackman recently as conference champs in a year when they earned key victories over Carmel, Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake South, Huntley and Grayslake Central, three of which are still alive. First-round opponent: Centralia (Colton Albers/Gavin Cass).
Vernon Hills (Cole Guillaume/Harsha Namburi, 17-7): The Cougars' strength at doubles powered Doug Gerber's club to its first-ever sectional title. This top team won all three of its matches with ease at the Carmel sectional to earn a 9-16 seed. First-round opponent: Montini (Thomas Batka/David Harte).
Vernon Hills (Matt Nguyen/Nikhil Manglani, 17-6): Up until its semifinal defeat against St. Viator, the Cougars' only setbacks this season came to perennial state powers Deerfield, Glenbrook North and Highland Park. First-round opponent: Grayslake Central (Cerquone/Whetham-Starbird).
Big pictureThis is the first season of two-class play after the IHSA introduced its new look last fall during the girls tennis campaign. This is also the first time in recent memory when the depth of quality is not quite as high as usual, thanks in part to heavy graduation losses to traditional state powers in the last two seasons.
With a field of 64 instead of the long-standing 128, there will be one less round of play, and 2 less points available with a victory, meaning the race for the team trophy will be hard-fought.
In 2A, Glenbrook North, Highland Park, Hinsdale Central, Naperville Central, New Trier and Stevenson will look for first-day rewards from all of their players to help keep them at the top of the standings and advance to second-day action, when the points swings accelerate.
Here's a brief look at the two classes.
Top (4) seeds -- Singles: Jacob Edelchik (Highland Park, 22-1), Jack Randall (Lockport, 29-0), Nick Marino (Glenbrook North), Ryan Rogener (Naperville Central, 28-2). Doubles: Edwardsville (Alex Gray/Zach Trimpe, 28-0), Highland Park, Glenbrook South (Sebastien DesRoberts-Rohan Gupta, 17-2), Highland Park (Brandon Lew-Jeremy Learner, 11-2), Hinsdale Central (Trevor Hamilton-Andrew Buhelos, 10-4
Lowdown: Only imperious domination from one of the top four at both singles and doubles will separate one of the closest fields in recent memory, although the slight nod goes to the top seeds Edelchik and Edwardsville.
Edelchik, who will play at LeHigh next fall, is just ahead of the class with his steady play and ability to use the entire court, waiting for his opponent to make a mistake.
Although an unknown to some, Randall of Lockport is just behind Edelchik in USTA rankings, while Marino, after his remarkable senior season, and Roegner, who was ready to face Edelchik in the finals of the Pitchford, are right there with their rivals.
In doubles, the No. 1 seed (Edwardsville) led the Tigers to a 17th consecutive sectional title last weekend and placed fourth at state last year.
After blasting Hinsdale Central in the final of the Jay Kramer Invite, and the rest of the field at the prestigious Deerfield 8-team Invite, a star was born at Highland Park with the team of Lew-Learner.
Central was set to play Edwardsville in the Pitchford final until rain washed away that highly anticipated contest.
The first day of play will help set up what appears to be a hard-fought battle for the team trophy. But with a smaller field, the backdraw and its valuable points might just settle the entire affair.
Those with a full complement here have the initial advantage, which again could make a big differene in backdraw points.
Top (4) seeds -- Singles: Victor Spolidoro (Dunlap, 38-0), Nic Meister (Latin, 24-2), Anderson Park (Belvidere North, 30-2), Nathan Spear (Chicago Northside, 14-2). Doubles: Chicago University High (Sam Fleming/Arjun Asokumar, 13-0), Normal U-High (Josh Friese/Carter Burk, 24-6), Dunlap (Steven Chacko/David Wu, 20-5), Metamora (Fletcher Koehrsen/Carston Boest, 20-6).
Lowdown: The respected long-time coach of Metamora, Kelly Willard, has seen just about every top 1A team this spring. He believes the race to the finish will be between Dunlap, Latin, Chicago University High, Normal U-High and ESCC champ Benet.
"Only Dunlap advanced all four of its entries, but the others have players who will be seeded and give them big points, with the hope their remaining guys can score a few points here and there to make a difference," says Willard.
Top seed Spolidoro was a 5-8 seed a year ago, losing to eventual state champion, Vic Budic of Deerfield in the fourth round before being eliminated for good by this year's No. 1 2A seed Edelchik.
Meister is a three-time sectional champ, Park a four-time state qualifier, and Spear went 4-2 here last season.
You can follow the entire three-day tournament online by going to the IHSA tennis page, which will have current results and standings as they are updated.