Boys tennis: St. Charles North prevails in UEC River
Unlike the weather, the participants in Saturday's Upstate Eight Conference River Division boys tennis championship matches were predictable.
In 6 of the 7 title contests, Batavia and St. Charles North players squared off for top honors.
Heading into the division tournament, the North Stars led the league with 38 points based on dual meets. The Bulldogs were in second place, 2 points behind.
Batavia made a good showing, winning 2 of the 3 singles titles, the 4th doubles crown and won the tournament, tallying 24 points, but was unable to knock North out of first place. The North Stars scored just enough points -23 -- to win the River Division title, 61-60.
"I thought our doubles really came through, clutch. We knew the last three matches on the court, we had to win it in order to win the conference and we were able to get it done," said North coach Sean Masoncup. "When we won in the third set in the third doubles, it was huge."
"It's disappointing that we fell a point short. We actually won the tournament itself so we can take that," said Batavia coach Brad Nelson. "A couple of tough losses in the season, they come back and bite you.
"With the format we have in the conference, every match matters. We lost two tough matches in the regular season, 3-setters, one to St. Charles East and one to Geneva and the ironic thing is that both those matches we lost in the regular season, we beat those teams today," Nelson added. "Had we beaten them during the season it's a whole different story."
Tournament play started with doubles competition at North and singles at St. Charles East. But when a thunderstorm rolled in during the early afternoon, play at North was suspended. After assessing the situation, tournament officials moved the matches over to East and shared the courts at the Norris Center with the singles contests.
Winning the third doubles title were North Stars David Schmidt and Connor Broshar, who edged Batavia's Alex Kuc and Issac Schifferer, 6-2, 6-7, 6-4.
In the first doubles championship match, the North duo of Ajay Gustafson and Connor Bajuk defeated Batavia's Will McClure and Keegan Thompson, in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.
"It was definitely hard to move from outside to inside and getting into the groove there. The important part was we were mentally sharp the whole time," said Gustafson. "We are really good at getting balls back and being aggressive, so we tried to do that as much as possible."
In the only title contest that featured a player not from Batavia or North, Streamwood's Alex Veltkamp fell to Batavia's Brogan Pierce, 6-1, 6-0 at first singles.
"I really wanted to hit to his backhand more and I knew he was going to go to my backhand since I have a one-handed backhand," Pierce said. "So I really wanted to make sure to move around and hit forehand."
North Star Cody Thomas won the third singles crown, downing Batavia's Cullen Bremner, 6-1, 6-4.
"Cody Thomas had a great finals match. He really stepped it up," said Masoncup. "He never played a varsity match and won the conference at third singles so as a coach you can't ask for anything more."
Bulldog Chase Bremner won top honors at second singles, edging North's Brett Walden, 6-1, 6-0.
Teammates Drew Lillig and Kipp Knecht, after dropping the first set to North's Garret Collins and Jim Cooke, 4-6 took the next two, 6-2 and 6-1 to win the fourth doubles honors.
"I was proud of our fourth doubles. They came out and after losing the first set, they battled back and won to a team that they lost to the other day," Nelson said.
The North Star pair of Reed Goldworth and Joshua Joseph took home second doubles first place medals by beating Batavia's Griffin Unterberg and Ben Grizaffi, 6-3, 6-0.