Girls tennis: Libertyville outlasts the field at Fremd invite
Sometimes, matches need to be won as a solo act.
Libertyville's girls tennis team swept the singles draw at the Fremd Invitational Saturday and that helped the Wildcats bring home the first-place hardware with 54 points.
St. Charles East followed with 41 points for second place while the host Vikings finished in third place, posting 39 points.
Libertyville junior Lily VanDixhorn continued where she left off from her sophomore campaign, besting the field Saturday. VanDixhorn is a two-time state qualifier and is a defending sectional champion. Libertyville's Maggie Fourkner shutout the entire No. 2 singles bracket in Saturday's affair.
VanDixhorn and Fourkner have switched off several times playing in the one and two singles slot, and Libertyville coach Dan Kiernan is pleased with the depth at the position, including No. 3 player Lauren Berns who also recorded a first-place finish Saturday.
"The singles (players) have been playing very well," Kiernan said. "We've done a rotation with (VanDixhorn) and (Fourkner), while (Berns) has done a great job. (Berns) is suited for singles and is very impressive. They're all ready to go if needed (in different positions). We just work in a little gamesmanship, and they keep winning matches."
VanDixhorn notched wins against her Jacobs opponent (6-2, 6-0), Hersey's Sydney Hemenway (6-0, 6-3) and St. Charles East's Emaira Saini (6-0, 6-2) in the final. Fourkner registered 6-0, 6-0 wins in all three matches against players from Jacobs, Fenwick and St. Charles East.
"It gives me more confidence playing in this tournament," VanDixhorn said. "I remember (how I play in) past matches when playing in invites (when she plays in weekend tournaments). It's important for us as a team to bond during these invites. It's also good for me to work on my swing."
Libertyville begins conference play this week and is optimistic it will continue this level of play following the team tourney victory.
The Fremd sister tandem of Kellie and Gracie Ha earned a first-place win in the No. 1 doubles flight and remain undefeated (as a twosome) in the 2019 season.
Kellie Ha is a returning state qualifier from 2018. She was paired with departed player Diya Matta where in last year's s meet they posted a top 12 finish.
The Fremd team that finished seventh overall in the state in 2018 lost many key pieces. Diya Matta graduated, while top the four duo of Kyra Emmanouilidis/Akari Matsuno did not return for their respective junior/sophomore years as they decided to focus on their USTA careers.
Kellie Ha is a two-time state qualifier, as she paired with eldest sister of the two, Elsie in 2017. In Gracie's freshman season, she was the Mid-Suburban League champ at the No. 2 singles slot.
"We've always wanted to play together," Gracie said. "I love being partners with (Kellie). We grow together as sisters on and off the court."
On Saturday, the Ha sisters bested the Buffalo Grove duo 6-1, 6-2, the Libertyville twosome 6-1, 6-4 and the Jacobs doubles team 6-4, 6-3. The two have weathered the drastic change of the team in the past season.
"It's definitely been different," Kellie said. "It was a little hard to get things going. But the team is playing well together. Everyone has been giving every player individual support. (The departure of players) doesn't faze us at all."
Other winners included Fremd's No. 2 doubles team of April Wu/Valentina Betancourt, Libertyville's No. 3 duo of Jenna Zaengle/Brook Bair and their No. 4 twosome teammates Michaela Orris/Raina Bahrani.
Conant took fifth place with 26 points, Hersey followed tied with Jacobs for sixth with 22 points and Buffalo Grove finished in eighth with 17.