Girls tennis: Competition continues with modified schedules
It is a season like no other in history.
While many high school sports are not occurring this fall season in Illinois due to the COVID-19 pandemic, girls' tennis is one of the fortunate activities taking place.
Sure, teams are playing a modified schedule without the usual weekend multi-team invitational tournaments, and events are limited to a maximum of 50 participants (including coaches), but at least tennis is being played at high schools throughout the state.
The first month (practices began Aug. 10) is in the books albeit without handshakes, fist bumps and hugging.
Goals no longer include playing for a state championship.
They have been simplified to playing -- period.
"Play the season and have fun doing so," said Benet Academy coach Michael Hand, whose team finished second in the state (Class 1A) last season. "(Without a state tournament), we're trying to recognize that we are able to play -- and create the camaraderie of the team as best as possible."
The Redwings return one half of their state doubles championship team in junior Kaitlyn Lee, who teamed with the now graduated Kendall Schrader to win the title last year.
Around the courts:
Jacobs, which finished 8-0 as the Fox Valley Conference champions and took 20th in the state (2A) last season, is off to a solid opening month, having handed Huntley its first loss in 6 matches last month, led by top singles player Chloe Siegfort's 6-1, 6-0 victory over junior Ruhi Gulati.
"More than anything, we want our team environment to be a welcoming one for our athletes who are currently so disconnected," said Jacobs coach Jon Betts.
The Golden Eagles also won 3 of 4 doubles matches behind Lara Santa-Ines/Bryn Reicha (No. 2), Sam Seibert/Alison Gerhardt (No. 3), and Anya Wieczorek/Lissie Kontos (No. 4).
Huntley received a pair of singles triumphs from sophomore Elaina Hibbeler (6-0, 6-0) and senior Alessandra Rivera (6-0, 6-0).
The Red Raiders raised their record to 7-1 overall, 3-1 in conference, with last week's 7-0 win over Dundee-Crown.
Gulati, Hibbeler and Rivera recorded straight-set victories in singles action, while doubles winners included Michelle Barnvos/Kylie Phommasack (6-1, 6-0), Talia Duffy/Dyllan Cash (6-0, 6-2), Kareena Patel/Michelle Chan (6-0, 6-2), and Ela Hontanosas/Aera Chong (6-2, 6-1).
One day earlier, Huntley swept all three of its singles matches during a 6-1 FVC triumph over Crystal Lake South.
Gulati, Hibbeler and Rivera were straight-set winners over Lizzy Sudbrook, Evelyn Smith, and Lauren Maag, while the doubles tandems of Barnvos/Kylie Phommasack, Patel/Cash, and Sunni Kwon/Chan added victories.
The Gators' lone victory was provided by their No. 3 doubles duo of juniors Marissa Baietto/Grace Gabel.
Crystal Lake South downed Prairie Ridge 5-2, sweeping 3 singles matches behind Sudbrook (6-2, 6-3), Smith (6-2, 6-4), and freshman Kate Howard (6-1, 6-2).
Earlier, the Gators dropped a 6-1 decision to FVC rival Cary-Grove, picking up their lone win at No. 2 singles where Smith outlasted Gwenn Moran, 6-0, 5-7, 6-1.
In addition to its doubles sweep (4 matches), Cary-Grove eked out 3-set singles wins behind Sara Greenwald and Annabella Gaffaney.
"The team score was a lot closer than it seemed -- with many very close matches," said Gators coach Evelyn Youel. "Four of the matches split sets but Cary-Grove won three of those matches."
Taking a positive approach:
Antioch, which returns junior Natalie Labicki, who teamed with since-graduated Sierra Ward and advanced to the third round of the doubles consolation bracket a year ago, is also taking a positive approach during a not-so-typical season.
"Our top priority is to be a place that is a 'release' from the other stressors in their lives," said Sequoits coach Jamie D'Andrea.
Neuqua Valley upped its record to 2-0 with Thursday's 5-2 DuPage Valley Conference win over Naperville North.
Sophomores Emily Chion and Victoria Yin earned straight-set victories at No. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, while the doubles teams of Hannah Kestenberg/Emiley Piao, Tonisha Aggarwal/Sarah Wu, and Rishita Kilam/Aashka Dayal added wins for the Wildcats.
The Huskies' No. 1 doubles duo of seniors Tiffany Zhang and Irene Zhang outlasted Neuqua's Sofia Ramos and Abby Allen, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.
In other action last week, Hampshire defeated McHenry 6-1 behind singles winners Anika Patel and Chare Hahn.
The Whip-Purs swept four doubles matches, anchored by Karolina Ryzka/Mary Kimura, Taylor Sweet/Lauren Marckini, Alessandra Valladares/Julianna Ernst, and Evie Renaldi/Grace Rose.
Conant edged Rolling Meadows, 4-3, in Mid-Suburban League play, on Sept. 2.
While junior Jessie Hernandez-Goncalves won at No. 3 singles, the Cougars took 3 of 4 doubles decisions behind Simren Mahasan/Riya Jain, Nirali Patel/Anjali Patel, and Sadhana Viswanathan/Mihira Jalwadi.
Juniors Hannah Haber and Alissa Erokhina earned singles wins for Rolling Meadows, which also received a No. 4 doubles victory from Autumn Hong/Allison Martin.
Meanwhile, Stevenson lost a 5-3 decision to Highland Park despite a No. 3 singles win from Sarah Wang, and doubles victories from Sophia Lagen/Sabrina Xue, and Ashley Yan/Kate Herlihy.
St. Charles East improved to 3-1 with last week's 3-1 win over Elgin Academy, while Metea Valley earned a 6-2 victory over Geneva.