Girls tennis: Teams welcoming athletes from other sports this fall

  • Willowbrook's Izabelle Manning (96) attempts to kick a point after against Mt. Carmel during a Class 7A semifinal football game last year. With no football this fall, Manning is playing tennis for the Warriors.

    Willowbrook's Izabelle Manning (96) attempts to kick a point after against Mt. Carmel during a Class 7A semifinal football game last year. With no football this fall, Manning is playing tennis for the Warriors. Sean King for the Daily Herald

Updated 9/17/2020 2:19 PM

While some high school student-athletes may be disappointed about their respective fall sports seasons being pushed back to the spring and summer months of 2021 by the Illinois High School Association, others are taking a more positive approach.

They have stepped out of their comfort zone to try something new.


Take Antioch's Hailey Russo and Hailey Webb, for example.

"Amongst our newcomers are two solid athletes who would normally be playing volleyball (Russo) and field hockey (Webb)," said Sequoits coach Jamie D'Andrea. "They have quickly picked up the sport as a result of their athleticism, and though they're still learning the nuances of the game, their competitive nature has already helped them find success."

D'Andrea, whose team enjoys record numbers to the program this year, likes watching the new-look doubles pairing of Russo and Webb.

"They're a team to watch as the season progresses and they learn more about the strategy in tennis," the coach said.

At Willowbrook, coach Eddie DeLaCruz welcomed four newcomers who would otherwise be involved in additional sports.

"Izabelle (Izzy) Manning is a place-kicker on our football team," said DeLaCruz. "And we have got three girls from our volleyball and soccer programs (Grace Tumilty, Brooke Vandergrift, and Mackenzie Parente).

"They have embraced a new challenge and understanding of the difficulty of playing tennis at a high level," said DeLaCruz. "They've caught on fast, making our doubles lineup strong and deep."

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St. Charles East is another school with an abundance of multisport athletes.

"All of our crossover athletes are playing in the lower levels," said Saints coach Matt Bulman. "We're pretty stacked there."

The Saints opened their DuKane Conference campaign with Tuesday's 4-3 win over Lake Park.

Receiving doubles victories from Caroline Donati/Smita Dhar (6-2, 6-2), Hannah Chapman/Megan Conroy (6-0, 6-0), and Kate Lauger/Natalie Hermann (6-4, 6-3) evened the score at 3-3, setting the stage for junior Audrey Jones' heroics.

"Shoutout to Audrey Jones with the gutsy win at second singles (6-2, 4-6, 10-7) to seal the team victory," added Bulman.

"I've played so many matches this year where I've come out, won the first set, but then dropped the second and eventually the match," Jones. "It has been all about mental toughness and I finally broke through that wall. At one point I was down 2-6 in the third set tiebreaker and came all the way back to win it 10-7. I was proud of myself but thankful my team was there to cheer me on. It meant a lot to have them there to help me through it."

The Saints improved to 4-1 with Wednesday's 7-0 victory over Waubonsie Valley.

"It's the first time in program history that we've swept Waubonsie," said Bulman.


The COVID-19 pandemic has not had an impact with numbers for many local teams.

"We have 53 girls on three teams," said St. Francis coach Tom Castronovo, whose varsity squad is led by returning state qualifying junior Julia Turek at No. 1 singles.

"It's the largest turnout in school history," said Castronovo.

Daniella Nenadovich and Meredith Green recorded wins at No. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, during Benet Academy's 8-2 nonconference victory over Glenbard South on Wednesday.

Huntley raised its record to 9-1 overall, 5-1 in the Fox Valley Conference, with Tuesday's 7-0 triumph over Hampshire behind singles winners Ruhi Gulati, Elaina Hibbeler, and Alessandra Rivera.

The Red Raiders began the week with a 6-1 win over Prairie Ridge on Monday.

In addition to singles wins from Gulati and Hibbeler, Huntley swept doubles action behind Kylie Phommasack/Michelle Barnvos, Talia Duffy/Dyllan Cash, Kareena Patel/Michelle Chan, and Ela Hontanosas/Aera Chong.

York evened its record at 2-2 with Tuesday's 6-3 West Suburban Silver win over Oak Park in Elmhurst behind singles victories from Gianna Nikoleit, Amelia Karr, and Sasha Neidigh.

A day earlier, the Dukes dropped a 7-0 decision to perennial power Hinsdale Central, who received solid doubles performances from Zoe Limparis/Bridget Novatney, Prachi Shah/Sophia Kim, Delaney Marringa/Maddie Boruff, and Heather Raslan/Maddie Tallard.

In Aurora, West Aurora scored an impressive 5-2 victory over Upstate Eight foe South Elgin on Monday.

While the Storm won at No. 1 singles (Naima Davis) and No. 1 doubles (Eleanor Karwoski/Ryleigh Brimie), the Blackhawks took 2 of 3 singles and 3 of 4 doubles matches.

West Aurora winners included Morgan Glatzhofer and Delaney Bastian in singles, and the doubles teams of Athena Ly/Jalyssa Carrasco, Kara Fowler/Lizzy Kuhn, and Megan Grove/Sadie Kerns.

Vernon Hills upped its mark to 9-2-1 with Monday's 7-0 victory over Maine East.

The Cougars' top doubles duo of Anjali Parande/Ritkita Dashaputra recorded their 10th victory of the season while singles winners included Natalie Kapelevich, Priyanka Shevade, and Katie Lee.

Prospect (10-4) defeated Evanston, 5-2, on Monday, behind singles victors Nikki Zakrzewski and Cassie Voicu (9th win of the season).

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