Boys tennis: Barrington makes it 8 straight MSL titles
The glory of Barrington boys tennis continued Saturday afternoon.
The Broncos are champions of the Mid-Suburban League for the eighth consecutive time after outscoring rivals Conant, Fremd and Hersey to claim the top prize on a cold and cloudy day at Hersey's Tom Pitchford Tennis Courts in Arlington Heights.
As it has been for so long, it was the Broncos' strength of depth that proved to be the reason for coach John Roncone's club to collect 61 overall points, 19 more than Conant (42), which edged Fremd (41) and Hersey (40) for second place honors.
"I could not be more proud of the boys today for their effort, and ability to close out their opponents but it's not a surprise when you have a group of players who put the goals of the team and their teammates above themselves," said Roncone.
With the top four teams dominating the front draw prior to the start of the semifinal round Saturday, it would only be a matter of time before the Broncos advanced all seven of their teams into the finals, where they would earn six championship medals.
"There is no doubt that we have a target on our backs every year, but it only makes all of us work that much more in order to fight off the rest of the conference in order to win a MSL championship," said senior Dylan Er, who has won three league titles at three different spots in the Broncos' lineup after doing so with Matt D'Amore at No. 1 doubles Saturday.
"Yes, there is pressure to succeed, but we have a deep and talented roster with a nice mix of young and older players who all want to continue our success," added D'Amore, now a two-time MSL champ.
After Roncone accepted the silverware from tourney officials, he would then turn it over to senior Kyle Schuff, who with his title at No. 3 doubles along with Ethan Paik, earned his fourth career MSL championship.
"I was fortunate as a freshman in 2016 to have a senior partner at doubles (Cam Holzman) who taught me the right way to be a leader and team player and I've tried to carry that on ever since," said Shuff. "I've now had three different doubles partners after Holzman and it's been great to have a hand in our success and to help Ethan, who just as me is a freshman starter on the varsity."
Er-D'Amore (23-5) needed just under an hour to defeat the Hersey team of Kevin Mi-Jace Collaro (18-6) in straight sets. Mi-Collaro earlier avenged a regular-season defeat at the hands of Arjun Srivasta-Ryan Zheng (19-6) from Fremd.
Aryan Sharma-Pranav Gadiraju, recently deployed as the Broncos' No. 2, beat Andrew Yin-Sean Hishinuma (Fremd) 6-2, 6-3 while the senior duo of Brent Li-Tim Lowe ended their Barrington careers on a high note with a straight-set victory.
"It's been great to be playing for Barrington and to go out with a second straight MSL title as well," said Lowe, who will play next fall at Carthage College, while majoring in Exercise Science.
Li, a first-time league champ, will major in neurosciences at Northwestern.
Sophomore Ammar Wazer (24-5) is now a two-time MSL champ at No. 2 singles, while freshman Niyanth Puliyala (13-2) collected his first at No. 3.
The story at No. 1 singles continues to be that of sophomore star Max Sheldon (Hersey, 25-1), who waited nearly two hours for Bradley Yu (Barrington, 19-3) to outlast Casey Hishinuma (Fremd, 16-9) in three sets before defeating Yu for a second -straight year.
"I watched my teammates, went inside to stretch and stay warm, so the time went pretty fast while those two were playing but I was ready to go for Bradley," said Sheldon, who went past the Barrington junior in just under 50 minutes, 6-2, 6-1.
"I knew (Yu) had just played over three hours, so I went out there looking to move him around, play long points and just keep him from getting into any type rhythm," said Sheldon.
Conant coach Dave Koleno was thrilled with the Cougars' second-place finish, which came together following a three-set victory at No. 2 doubles by Roberto Macher-Shashank Yerraguntia (14-8) over Dan Gankov-Jack Aiello (12-2) to earn key points toward the Conant cause.
Then, when senior Vera Iyer claimed a win over Fremd sophomore Hishinuma, who withdrew in the second set, the Cougars were able to outscore both Fremd and Hersey by the narrowest of margins.
"We've had a few players out with injuries so to be able to finish second at the tournament and, for me, in my last year of high school, is fantastic," said Iyer, a three-time state qualifier, who will attend Indiana University where he's been accepted to the highly-regarded Kelly School of Business.