Boys tennis: Stevenson shows winning form at Buffalo Grove

 
By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/21/2018 9:39 PM
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Boys tennis state power Stevenson had too much firepower for its rivals at Buffalo Grove Invite, sweeping all six flights en route to the team championship Saturday.

Returning state qualifiers Sam Komis and Zach Kim, who combined for 8 wins a year ago at the state tournament, led the way with straight-set victories at Nos. 1 and 2 singles. Fellow state qualifiers Aswath Viswanathan/Arjun Sheelvanth also handled their opponents from Glenbrook North at No. 2 doubles.

Eric Perkowski/Sai Merneedi dominated the field for their first major together as the No. 1 team for Stevenson coach Tom Stanhope.

"It was good to finally get in a multi-match day before the Pitchford 32 next weekend," said Stanhope, who team outscored runner-up Glenbrook North 48-35 while third-place Palatine finished with 27 points.

"The weather has been so terrible this spring (which) has forced all of us to train indoors as much as we can," said Komis. "So it was great to finally get some tennis outdoors to help us get ready for our busy week ahead, which includes the Pitchford.

Both Komis and Kim hope to put their state background to good use again later this spring. But for now the Pats are trying to live in the moment.

"(Coach) Stanhope has told all of us that we have to learn to adapt to the weather conditions we've had thus far, and to just fight through it, because it could continue the rest of this season," Kim said. "I think all of us have done a pretty good job of doing so."

Freshman Tom Gong kept the Patriots perfect at singles with 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Alex Mushinskiy of Glenbrook North.

Another freshman, Palatine's Jackson Spurck, was coming off a big win over fellow rookie sensation Max Sheldon of Hersey in three long sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

"Max is a great player, and we went back-and-forth with every point it seemed," said Spurck, who finished second at BG behind Komis. "Being our No. 1 guy as a freshman is a challenge because I'm playing mostly juniors and seniors. But I am enjoying the opportunity and looking forward to being a part of my first Pitchford appearance next week."

Buffalo Grove celebrated its best result at singles with Joseph Hong's fourth-place medal. Spurck's teammates at all three doubles earned fourth-place honors.

Coach Amy Ritchie continued to tweak her starting lineup at St. Viator, and Saturday the Lions head coach hit pay dirt at doubles as all three of her teams collected third-place medals.

Jack Aiello/Matt Firestone, who accounted for the Lions' lone victory against Prospect on Friday, were together once again to take third-place honors at No. 1.

Firestone and Aiello led Lions from the Nos. 1 and 2 singles spot in a 5-0 victory over St. Patrick in ESCC earlier in the week.

At second doubles, St. Viator's Andrew Kicinski/Matthew McManaman needed three sets (3-6, 6-3, 6-2) to upend Palatine for third place. And at third doubles, the Lions' Robert Douglas/Ryan Flynn were easy straight-set winners for third place.

Lake Zurich's Sam Leung gave the Bears their best finish on the day at No. 1 singles with fourth place.

Barltett's Jacob Brendel bounced back from a first-round defeat to Komis to grab fifth-place overall.

at Chicago Latin: Three-time sectional champion Conant flexed its muscle against the field at the Roman Invite on the lakefront at the Latin School of Chicago.

The Cougars, fourth here a year ago, were atop the leaderboard at the end of the day, ahead of New Trier and six others four others at this annual tournament played at Waveland Park.

"New Trier split their squad between here and Hinsdale Central, so they obviously were not at full strength here," said Conant coach Dave Koleno. "But it was still a terrific win for us, especially with Nico (Rosas) and Kaahan (Motwani) winning it all at doubles, and Vera (Iyer) taking third overall at singles."

The Rosas/Motwani duo defeated the No. 1 seed from New Trier (6-3, 7-6) in the final, after a marathon semifinal with Latin (Bathri-Wuyan) went 6-3, 1-6, 10-8 to decide who would advance.

Iyer, a two-time state qualifier, started with two easy victories before one of the top players in this half of the state, Quinten Nevenhoven (Rockford Auburn), ended the hopes of the Cougars star of reaching the final.

"There were so many highlights today, beginning with Nico and Kaahan, but with the rest of our guys finishing third or better, it proved to be a terrific all-around day for Conant tennis," said Koleno.

at Hinsdale Central: With freshmen phenoms Danny Schmelka and Ansh Shah away at a USTA Invite in Toledo, Ohio, Hinsdale Central turned to veteran Zack Elliott to provide the inspiration on Saturday.

The senior completed a sensational day of tennis with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Dominick Cuchran (Lyons Township) to capture the singles crown at the prestigious Jay Kramer Invite, and likely ensure a top-four seed at next week's Pitchford 32.

Elliott, sixth a year ago at the state tournament, helped his club earn 81 points, 2 more than runner-up New Trier.

"We had two five-star players away for the weekend, but we're fortunate to have a guy like Zack, who not only is one highly motivated and tremendous athletic player, but also a real first-class young man," said Red Devils coach John Nesbitt.

Teammates Trevor Hamilton/Andrew Buhelos, state champs a year ago, rolled over New Trier (Luetz/Bianucci) in the final at No. 1 doubles (6-1, 6-3). Hinsdale Central's William Dannacher/Ryan Biegansy were runners-up at No. 3/4 doubles after falling 6-4, 6-3 to New Trier (Rogers/Wagh).

Neuqua Valley's Brian Li/Rohan Sonay took sixth at No. 1 doubles.

"It was great that our guys could finally get an entire tournament start-to-finish under out belts after having just three matches completed in the first three-plus weeks of the season," said Neuqua Valley coach Trudy Bennorth, whose team finished fifth with 44 points, 11 back of reigning MSL champion Barrington.

The Broncos enjoyed a solid day all the way around, nearly overcoming fourth-place Lyons Township (58-55) thanks to some wonderful work at singles from Dylan Er and Ammar Wazir. They were on track to meet in the fifth-place match, but Er, a junior, defaulted to his freshmen teammate.

"I thought I opened the tournament with a real good effort, then ran into Jeremy Learner (Highland Park), a great player who had the better of it in my first set," said Er, who after dropping the first set 6-0, roared back before falling short 7-6 (2) in the second set. "It comes down to winning the big points, and Jeremy was a little better at that in our match."

Learner ended up taking third.

In doubles, the Broncos' Matt D'Amore/Aryan Sharma looked sharp in the seventh-place contest to finish the day 3-1.

"When we went down, we always fought back today, and that's something we're really proud of, especially with the quality of opponents we faced," said Sharma. "This tournament was the test Aryan and I had been waiting for in order to see how we measure up against others, and we feel we did very well here to get us ready for the week, and especially the Pitchford."

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