Boys tennis: Hinsdale Central tunes up with Pitchford 32 victory
After winning back-to-back major tournaments, Hinsdale Central sure looks like the team to beat in high school boys tennis this spring.
With No. 1 doubles team Andrew Buhelos/Trevor Hamilton leading the way, the Red Devils outscored runner-up Stevenson 70-56 in the Pitchford 32 at Hersey on Saturday to establish themselves as the favorite in four weeks when the Class 2A state tournament gets started.
Reigning state champion Naperville Central was third overall with 54 points, ahead of New Trier (48) and Edwardsville (40) to complete a terrific two days of tennis in spite of late afternoon rain on Friday and a cold north wind on Saturday.
Buhelos/Hamilton, second a year ago to one-half of the Edwardsville tandem (Alex Gray/Seith Lipe) they defeated Saturday afternoon in straight sets, appears to be the top seed choice for state after earning consecutive championship trophies these last two weekends.
"Winning the Jay Kramer last weekend and the 32 today means a lot to both of us, but it won't mean a thing if we don't win a state title," said Hamilton, who was paired with Buhelos in last year's loss in the doubles state final to Gray and Zach Trimpe.
"These last two doubles titles will help provide momentum for us during the last four weeks of the season," said Buhelos following the Red Devils' 7-6 (2), 6-2 victory over Edwardsville. "But we still have work to do."
Hinsdale Central's Joseph Daw/Ansh Shah captured first place honors at No. 2 doubles with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Reed Bianucci/Colin Fox of New Trier. Bianucci was the starting quarterback last fall for the Trevians' football team.
Red Devils senior Zack Elliot, who earned the No. 1 singles title last weekend at the Jay Kramer Invite, saw his chances for another memorable finish dashed by top seed Jack Randall (Lockport), who overcame two difficult matches prior to final to earn a 7-6 (5), 7-5 victory.
"I had a very tough opener today with Zach Trimpe (Edwardsville) that went into a tiebreaker, then had to work just as hard against Dominick Cochran (Lyons Township), who is a tremendous freshmen player," said Randall, who will play next season at Western Michigan. "I took almost 40 minutes between my semifinal and the final with Zack, and to be honest it was probably the best I felt physically compared to my previous two matches."
Randall defeated the Lehigh-bound Elliot last year in the state's fifth-place match.
Both Stevenson and Naperville Central showed plenty of firepower as well.
The Patriots' Zack Kim, who topped five opponents over the two days, finished with a sparkling performance in his final at No. 2 singles with Max Bengston of New Trier.
The Patriots junior conceded a total of just five games, displaying a comprehensive attack that none of his rivals were able to match.
"It feels great to win my first (32) title, and in doing so it gives a real boost to my confidence and all-around game, which I feel was strong from my very first match of the tournament," Kim said.
Stevenson's Sam Komis rebounded from a straight-set loss in the quarterfinals to Elliot to secure the fifth-place medal over Hersey's Max Sheldon, making his first 32 appearance.
The Patriots earned valuable points at doubles with two top-five finishes, the best of them coming at No. 2 doubles where Arjun Sheelvanth/Aswath Viswanathan fell just short in their quest for a fourth-place medal to the Mark Polowczak/Joseph Li tandem from Naperville Central in three sets.
The Pats' No. 1 duo of Sai Merneedi/Erik Perkowski took fifth place with a 1-6, 6-4, 10-3 victory over Glenbard West's Griffin Foster/Christo Maltby.
The Hilltoppers were 10th overall (26), 2 points behind Neuqua Valley (28).
Coach Dan Brown was proud of his Naperville Central club, which stayed in the trophy race from start to finish, overcoming a tough semifinals to finish third.
"We went 0-for-4 in the semifinals today, but all four teams rebounded really well to finish in the top 4 and to help us get enough points to finish ahead of New Trier," Brown said. "Ryan (Roegner) had a disappointing straight-set loss in his semifinal with Zack (Elliot), but like the true veteran that he is, he played great against Cochran to win in straight sets."
Freshman Naveen Ramakrishman was fourth at No. 2 singles, while Martin Matov/Ammaar Saeed were third at No. 1 doubles to complete a superb two days, highlighted by a three-set loss to eventual runner-up Edwardsville.
The Redhawks' Mark Polowczak/Joseph Li captured third at No. 2 doubles with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Stevenson.
Defending Mid-Suburban League champion Barrington finished seventh with 36 points and enjoyed one of its best visits to the 32 in recent memory. That's thanks in part to a fifth-place medal at No. 2 doubles by the newly installed team of Dylan Er/Kyle Shuff.
"Dylan and Kyle played very well for their first time together, plus we received some solid performances from our two players at singles, Bradley Yu (No. 1) and Ammar Wazir," said Broncos coach John Roncone.
Wazir, a freshman, placed fifth at No. 2 singles.