Boys tennis: Fremd outlasts Conant for sectional championship
Another busy day of boys tennis ended Saturday just before late thunderstorms came through the area.
When sectional play was over at Conant, it would be coach Matt Duncan's Fremd Vikings who would carry off the team trophy in Hoffman Estates.
The Vikings would celebrate a Casey Hishinuma title at singles and another at doubles from Ryan Zheng-Arjun Srivasta (23-6) to help them edge Conant 27-24.
Glenbard North, behind two-time state qualifier Sean Boland was third, while Streamwood and its two-time state qualifier Alex Velkamp finished fourth.
"I knew my guys would have to bring their A games today, because Dave's team is always dangerous and ready to go, and that's what they did," said Duncan, referring to Conant and its coach, Dave Koleno.
After losing in a dual to Conant, then last week for second-place honors at the Mid-Suburban League tournament, Duncan watched Hishinuma (22-10) defeat Conant senior Vera Iyer (18-8) in the sectional final 6-1, 6-1.
"I stuck to my game plan, and kept my focus all throughout the two days here," said Hishinuma, a sophomore who qualified for state last season as well.
When the Vikings' No. 1 team of Zheng-Srivasta won in straight sets over Conant's No. 2 team of Roberto Macher-Rameen Marzban 6-1, 6-3 in their final it would ensure the sectional title.
"We knew we had to be aggressive to win because Conant is a quality team," echoed Zheng and Srivasta.
"Fremd played great tennis today, but we're still excited to have three teams headed to state to represent Conant," said Koleno.
Boland (23-5) and Veltkamp (22-6) met for the third time in third place match, with the Michigan State-bound Boland coming out ahead, 7-5, 6-0.
"Sean has improved his mental game so much from last season, plus he's more relaxed and plays with great composure so he's really enjoying his final year of high school tennis like he should," said Panthers coach, Doug Clark, who will be retiring after 45 years in education at the end of the school year.
"Yes, having better control has been the key to a very good season so far and because of that I feel like I am playing the best tennis of my life," said Boland, who among his many wins this season has recorded one against Joseph Li (Naperville Central), who won a sectional title Saturday at his own sectional.
Veltkamp, who went 1-2 last season at state, has the perfect practice partner in his older brother Chris, who is in his second year of playing at Judson University in Elgin.
"We play and practice together as often as we can, and he's helped me with several things including playing with more patience and to be mentally stronger than my opponents," said the Sabres' star. "My serve and forehand have improved dramatically, and with it, I look to go a little deeper at state than last year."
At Glenbrook South: Glenbrook South dominated the final session in Glenview on Saturday, taking home the top two spots at singles and a second place medal at doubles to outscore Central Suburban League rival Glenbrook North to claim the sectional title.
GBS finished with 22 points, 10 more than GBN with Maine West, led by Kamil Kozerski, finishing in third place overall with 9 points.
The Warriors' sophomore (26-4) came back from a straight-set loss to eventual runner-up Michael Bukhalo of GBS (25-7) to take third place from Jack Belconis (Maine South) with a well-played 6-2, 6-2 victory.
"It's been quite an experience the last two weeks, but I've learned a lot from playing several top-flight players, which should help prepare me for my first appearance at state," said Kozerski. "When you're playing guys like (Jeremy) Learner (Highland Park) and Bukhalo, who have so much experience, you learn right away that you have to compete at your highest level and to never give away easy points because if you make those mistakes they will take advantage of you," added Kozerski, who will now wait to see who his first opponent will be at state.
Bukhalo would drop a three-set final to teammate Marc Blekhman, while at doubles, GBN's Ben Riad-Ethan Park claimed first place over the sophomore duo from GBS, Ben Soyfer-Daniel Deboren, 6-1, 7-5. Riad-Park were top eight at state last season.
At Highland Park: With three of its four teams still alive on Saturday morning, it looked as if Hersey was in position to challenge the host Giants for the big prize.
However, when both of coach Andy Walton's doubles teams lost to their HP counterparts, and Max Sheldon (29-2) fell in the final to Jeremy Learner, 6-3, 6-3, it was more than enough to put the Giants over the top for the second consecutive year at home.
"After a terrific first day it was an anticlimactic ending today," admitted a disappointed Walton.
Nonetheless, the Huskies will send Sheldon into the state tournament for the second straight time, along with Kevin Mi-Jace Coffaro (22-7) who were sectional champs a year ago.
Dan Gankov-Kacper Pasielak (11-1) advanced for their first time after recently being placed together by Walton.
Jackson Spurck, who became the first player from Palatine in 11 years to qualify, finished fourth after tweaking his ankle at the end of his semifinal match with Highland Park's Learner.
"Jackson tried to go against Charlie (Chernawsky, Deerfield) in his third-place match, but he didn't move very well so hopefully rest, rehab and ice will have him ready to go on Thursday," said Pirates coach Jim Lange.
At Vernon Hills: It was too much Nathan Spear and his teammates from Chicago Northside who outscored the host Cougars 22-17 to win the big trophy.
The Class 1A state runner-up from a year ago was an easy winner at singles over his Northside teammate Jacob Watson, while Nicholas Biernadski-Justin Penados beat the Cougars' top team of: Pranav Vaswani-Eric Rodriguez (15-13), 6-3, 6-1 at doubles.
The Cougars' No. 2 team of Sujay Voleti-Cooper Guillaume (18-10) beat the Jeff Andrews-Kyle Cacioppo team from Fenton for third place.
"Aditya played well in his first sectional ever and both of our doubles teams did so also, especially (Friday) to get themselves into the state tournament," said Vernon Hills coach Doug Gerber.