Boys tennis: Wheaton North, Batavia still battling for DuKane title
The final DuKane Conference meet championship match on Saturday -- No. 4 doubles -- would determine if the regular season needed to be extended two more days to crown a league champion.
Going into the conference meet, Wheaton North and Batavia were tied for first with 38 points apiece, but the Bulldogs still have an unfinished dual meet with St. Charles North, scheduled to resume on Monday.
At the start of the No. 4 doubles against Wheaton Warrenville South, the Falcons had already earned 11.5 points to the Bulldogs' 11. If Wheaton North won the match, it would earn three more points and clinch the crown.
After dropping the first set, 6-2, Falcons' Jack Mancuso and Mark O'Connell rallied to win the second set, 7-6. But Tigers' Jack Wagner and Luke Olivito recovered to win the third set and the match, 9-6.
As a result, Wheaton North tallied only two points for the second place finish and stayed ahead of the Bulldogs by only 2.5 points.
If Batavia wins all three suspended matches on Monday, it will notch three points and take the conference title by a half point.
"Any time we are playing the crosstown rival, you know it is a good match," said Wheaton North coach Eric Laird. "It came down to that third set, super tiebreaker. They just built a lead and outlasted us."
"We are still hanging on by a thread. We are two and a half points out with three matches to make up," said Batavia coach Brad Nelson. "We knew it would come down to a few points. Wheaton North has been tough in doubles all year long. We had a couple of doubles matches we expected to win and they didn't go our way. Those upsets come back and hurt you."
St. Charles North tallied 14 points in the conference tournament to capture third place. If the North Stars sweep the pending contests, it will jump into second place.
"We had a great tournament and gained some ground and we still have three outstanding matches against Batavia," St. Charles North coach Sean Masoncup said. "I thought yesterday was probably the best performance of the year from Connor Bajuk (third place No. 1 singles). He beat a kid who was in the top 15 last year."
Batavia ruled in the singles competition with two first place finishes and one second place. Wheaton North advanced all four doubles teams to the championship round, taking home two first place and two second medals.
Bulldog Brogan Pierce took top honors in the No. 1 singles, beating Glenbard North's Sean Boland 6-2, 6-1 in the title match.
"I was serving really well which enabled me to hold my serve. That would help me when I would get a break, I would be able to hold right after that," Pierce said. "And my forehand was feeling really good so I was able to attack."
"He's had an amazing year. He's won 27 matches in a row I think," said Nelson. "He has worked really hard and we are seeing the fruits of that labor. We feel he is peaking at the right time."
Teammate Chase Bremner won the No. 2 singles by edging Paul Choi from Wheaton Warrenville South, 6-3, 6-2. Benn Lirot took home a second place medal in No. 3 singles after dropping the championship match to St. Charles North's Armaan Mullick, 6-0, 6-2.
Wheaton North took home first place medals in No. 1 and 2 doubles. The freshman duo of Niku Cowart and Devin Jones beat Joshua Joseph and Reed Goldsworthy from St. Charles North in the No. 1 doubles in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5.
"It was super close all the way through. We were battling the whole time," said Cowart. "We were more consistent and we just outlasted them."
David Houlihan and Jack Tegart needed three sets (6-2, 2-6, 10-7) to beat the North Stars' Alex Geivelis and Bret Walden in No. 2 doubles.
"Our doubles have been our strength all season long in conference and nonconference play. We had good depth at doubles," Laird said. "The first and second doubles teams have fed off of each other all season long. It was fun to see them battle each other in practice and for both them to come out on top was rewarding."
The North Stars finally got the best of the Falcons in the No. 3 doubles title match. Jim Cooke and Dave Schmidt downed Anthony Indelli and Anthony Vuolo in two sets, 6-2, 6-4.
Wheaton Warrenville South finished fourth with 34.5 points.
Although Geneva hosted the meet, the matches were played at St. Charles North and St. Charles East. East was a scheduled site for some of the final contests. After it started raining at Geneva, the matches there were moved to North because its courts were dry.