Girls tennis: Stevenson claims title at Prospect

By Jonathan Jones
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/22/2018 8:13 PM

Stevenson's girls tennis team has made it a habit to win the Fall Classic hosted at Prospect. Saturday was the seventh-consecutive year the Patriots have taken home first-place honors.

The Patriots tallied 64 points with three out of seven of their lineup making the finals in their respective brackets. All three of those finalists took home first.


Following the Patriots was New Trier in second place with 61 points and Highland Park with 50 in third. Fremd finished fourth with 45 points.

The Mid-Suburban League and other area teams were well represented as Buffalo Grove, Conant, Fremd, Hersey, Prospect, Rolling Meadows and East Suburban Catholic Conference team St. Viator were all competing.

The Fall Classic is laden with talent and is a precursor to many state tournament melees.

New Trier No. 1 singles player Ali Benedetto registered a first place finish in her flight. Benedetto tallied wins over Moline's Sarah Gutafson 6-0, 6-0, Fremd's Sonal Matta 6-2, 6-1, Buffalo Grove's Kina Tamai 6-2, 6-2 and recorded a 7-5, 6-3 victory in the final against Highland Park's Caitlin Goldberg.

Benedetto tallied a third-place finish at the 2017 IHSA Class 2A state tournament with graduated partner Amia Ross. The duo was seeded at the top of the 2017 draw. As a junior, Benedetto is hoping to leave her mark as she will compete the remainder of 2018 campaign as a solo act. Benedetto is undefeated this season at singles.

"I just tried to stay focused," Benedetto said. "It was a state tournament environment. Throughout the summer I was working hard with my coaches trying to make progress and develop my game trying to make the jump (in singles). This win is big for me, and it's helping me gain more confidence."

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The Fremd duo of sophomore Kyra Emmanouilidis/freshman Akari Matsuno defeated the field Saturday in No. 1 doubles. The Viking tandem notched wins over St. Viator's Emma Zajac/Tess McLaughlin (6-1, 6-0), Glenbrook North's Zoe Birman/Lara Pick (6-1, 6-1), Oak Park-River Forest's Sophia Kreider/Maya Jamroz (6-4, 6-3) and a 6-1, 6-2 win in the final over Highland Park's Monique Brual/Samara Michael.

Emmanouilidis has taken on a new role for the Vikings. After posting a second-place finish in the 2017 Hersey sectional, the Viking sophomore is now paired with newcomer Akari Matsuno in doubles. Emmanouilidis/Matsuno had big shoes to fill as Fremd waived farewell to it's No. . 1 team and Top 8 tandem in the state Julia Smiarowska and Kate Bodensteiner. Between the power strokes of Emmanouilidis and the line play of Matsuno, the two complement each other well on the court. The sophomore-freshman tandem share the camaraderie on and off the court, as the two play club tennis together. Emmanouilidis and Matsuno are undefeated this season.

"It is just a lot of fun to play together," Emmanouilidis said. "(Winning Saturday), is a boost of confidence to us. Everyone (competing in the Fall Classic) is in our sectional and we played really well. You can really feel the competitive energy since these matches are big for sectional seeding purposes."

Other champions included Fremd's No. 2 doubles team of Diya Matta/Kellie Ha, Stevenson No. 2 singles player Ellen Ma, New Trier No. 3 singles player Emily Rhee, Stevenson's No. 3 twosome of Sneha Yellapantula/Abby Schueneman and the Patriots' No. 4 duo of Alexis Lee/Emily Hu.

Another area medalist was Buffalo Grove's Kina Tamai, who recorded a third place showing in No. 1 singles. After faltering in the semifinals, Tamai bested Libertyville's Lily VanDixhorn 6-2, 6-0 for the third place finish. This is the fourth meeting the two have had, and the first win Tamai was able to tally over VanDixhorn.

"I finished the day on a good note," Tamai said. "You get a good feel playing against (MSL adversaries) for conference and sectionals. It helps me strategize and find weaknesses. Anything can happen. If I'm playing at my best, I know I can pull it off."

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