Boys tennis: Fresh outlook as Barrington repeats, Hersey's Sheldon win singles in MSL
It's been the year of the freshman in Mid-Suburban League boys tennis.
One quick glance at the brackets of the conference tournament reveals that six first-year players finished in the top four at singles, while another half-dozen more were in the starting lineups for their respective clubs.
But one rookie player stood out among the rest.
Max Sheldon leapt into the limelight to brighten an otherwise dreary weather day at tourney host Hoffman Estates, defeating defending champ Bradley Yu of Barrington in three sets to give the Hersey standout a championship at No. 1 singles.
Sheldon's performance helped the Huskies edge Fremd for second place overall behind Barrington, which captured its sixth consecutive conference title.
"This is an exciting time for Hersey tennis," said Hersey coach Andy Walton, whose club edged Fremd by 41-40. Barrington finished up at 55. "Having a player such as Max with us this year has elevated the play of every player on our roster. But with him, it's all about the team first, and not himself. Obviously we're thrilled for him, and our program."
"At the start of the year I thought I could maybe advance into the finals," Sheldon said. "But I never thought I would win it with Bradley in the field. Right now it feels amazing to the MSL champ at No. 1."
Neither Sheldon nor his coach is sure about who'd been the most recent player from Hersey to win the No. 1 singles title in the MSL tourney. Sheldon suggested it might have been the last state champion from the program, Brad Rosenbaum, in 1988.
"I'm not really sure, but I'm just happy that it's me today," Sheldon said with a wry smile.
The Yu-vs.-Sheldon final was the last match of this year's tournament to be completed on Saturday. Play at other venues including Conant and Schaumburg began at 8 a.m., with the hope of beating rainy conditions in the forecast.
Barrington, which last year swept all four doubles on its way to a 20-point victory, nearly repeated the feat. The Broncos this time won three of four.
Dylan Er, who won at No. 2 singles a year ago, combined with now-three time doubles champ Kyle Schuff to win easily at No. 2 doubles. Their teammates Suven Sinha/Joe Wolff (No. 3) and Tim Lowe/Emre Guceli (No. 4) followed suit.
"Dylan and I have played even better than I thought we would since we were put together," said Schuff.
The Schuff/Er tandem has gone 14-2 this spring.
"Kyle is a good player, and we complement each other real well on the court in a lot of different ways," said Er after the Broncos duo topped Fremd's Sean Hishinuma/Andrew Yin in less than an hour 6-2, 6-2.
Lowe was a JV champion for Barrington last season.
The Broncos' top doubles team, Matt D'Amore/Aryan Sharma (14-7), was on course to defending its 2017 title when D'Amore injured his left wrist during a semifinal with Fremd's Advay Mahajan/Arjun Srivasta, turning this contest into a three-set loss for the Broncos, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.
"We hung in there during that third set, but Matt just wasn't at full strength," said Sharma, who with his teammate defaulted their third-place match to Jace Coffaro/Dom Antony (13-5) from Hersey.
Mahajan/Srivasta (15-9) later fell to Conant's Nico Rosas/Shashank Yerraguntia in the final 6-4, 6-2.
For Rosas, it caps a brilliant four-year MSL career. He earned an conference title at No. 2 singles in 2016 to go along with his long-awaited doubles crown.
"I can't tell you how great it feels to win today, especially after falling short last season," Rosas said. "Shashank was terrific today filling in for my regular partner (Kaahan Motwani) -- he played great."
"It took us awhile to get things sorted out, but once we did, there was really good chemistry going on out there," said Yerraguntia, second here last year at No. 3 singles.
The Cougars duo helped their team to fourth-place with 37 points, 6 ahead of Prospect, which rounded out the top five.
Before Sheldon defeated Yu, Barrington freshman Ammar Wazir (18-2) needed three sets (6-2, 4-6, 6-3) to defeat Andrew Milas (13-4) of Conant at No. 2 singles. Meanwhile, Roberto Macher (Conant) went three sets (5-7, 6-4, 6-0) to defeat Barrington junior Nick Edels at No. 3 to win for the first time.
Sheldon (16-4) said Yu (14-3) was hitting all of his shots during his first-set loss but was playing a little too conservatively. Once Sheldon loosened up a bit and started generating power from a compact but smooth forehand swing, it helped move the Broncos sophomore around.
Sheldon finished strong to get back even with Yu in the second before again falling behind 2-0 in the third.
"He could have finished me off, but I battled back to make it 2-2, before winning the next four games," said Sheldon.
"Max has quite a future ahead of him if he continues to improve as he has just during the spring season, so congratulations to him," said Barrington coach John Roncone.
"For us, it feels terrific to win again, and to have us do really well at doubles again with Kyle and Dylan leading the way to help us build our lead."
• The East Suburban Catholic Conference tournament hosted by Benet Academy concluded on Saturday, and the Redwings were able to claim the team championship.
Benet finished with 56 points, ahead of runner-up Nazareth Academy at 46.
Coach Amy Ritchie's St. Viator team edged out Carmel Catholic 36-35 for third place.
Notre Dame's Nick Hebda topped Nazareth sophomore Michael Rooney 6-7 (7), 7-6 (8), 6-1 for the No. 1 singles title, and at No. 1 doubles, Benet's Danny McGuigan/Casey Schrader won 6-2, 6-3.