Girls tennis: Quickly, Lakes' Heuser nets sectional title
Grandma showed up, but her granddaughter's match had just concluded.
She was quickly forgiven, especially after she heard the results.
"It's the thought that counts," Lakes junior tennis player Megan Heuser said with a smile.
Fact is, Heuser has gotten used to making quick work of most of her opponents this fall to the tune of a 23-0 record, which includes her losing only eight total games.
Saturday was no different in the Class 1A Antioch sectional at Lakes, where the top-seeded Heuser used a blistering first serve and ferocious forehand to breeze past second-seeded Richmond-Burton freshman Savannah Webb 6-0, 6-0 for her third straight sectional title.
"She hit a hard ball and her being a left-hander, I had to adjust," Heuser, who blasted 5 service aces in the straight-set victory, said of Webb. "I used the first couple of games to take control and get my rhythm."
The top-four finishers in singles and doubles qualified for the Buffalo Grove-hosted state meet, which commences on Thursday at District 211, 214 and 220 courts.
"It's why I play high school tennis," Heuser said. "The crown jewel is state and I love representing my school and having a chance at a state title."
Heuser finished third in the state as both a freshman and sophomore.
"It's so rewarding to see the results of all of her hard work," Lakes coach Bryan Plinske said. "From the time she's put in with us to her USTA events to practice, we're happy to have been a part of her success."
While Heuser and Webb made it through, the third-place match went to Woodstock North senior Aly Cullotta, who came back to beat Grayslake Central's Karishma Bhalla 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
"We're not a big tennis school, but Karishma has been playing some excellent tennis," Rams coach Chuck Lawson said. "She's lost only three times this fall and has the experience of going to state."
Last year as a freshman, Bhalla qualified for state in singles and won two matches.
In doubles on Saturday, the Johnsburg team of senior Kamile Aleksaite and sophomore Gracie Cittadino defeated Wauconda sophomores Megan Hackman and Sophia Esquivel 6-2, 6-1 for the sectional title.
The Bulldogs duo defeated Antioch senior Sierra Ward and sophomore Natalie Labicki 6-1, 6-4 in the semis.
But Ward and Labicki then went on to defeat Carmel Catholic junior Reilly McGinn and senior Emma Thomas in the third-place match.
McGinn and Thomas had lost to Cittadino and Aleksaite in the semifinals 6-4, 1-6, 2-6.
It's been only a week since Ward and Labicki teamed up after playing Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, all season.
"We thought it would be a possibility since the beginning of the year," Ward said. "We work really well and complement each other."
While this is Ward's second time to state in doubles, it will be Labicki's first trip.
"It's exciting but I'm nervous," Labicki said. "We'll do just fine as long as we strategize and have good serving."
Woodstock North won the sectional with 15 points, followed by Carmel and Grayslake Central tied for second with 14. Johnsburg (12) was fourth and Lakes (10) fifth.