Boys tennis: Maine South, Naperville Central shine at Rolling Meadows
Avid fans of boys tennis had the right to feel a bit unsatisfied at Saturday's Rolling Meadows invite.
The two best teams at the eight-team gathering never got the chance to exchange blistering shots. Officials opted to split the competition into a pair of round-robin quads -- one held at Meadows, the other at Palatine -- in an unusual 3-singles-3-doubles dual format.
Maine South won all three of its duals at Meadows, while Naperville Central went 3-0 at Palatine.
Perhaps the most delicious matchup would have been Naperville Central's top doubles team of seniors Daanyal Saeed/David Wang and Maine South's top two singles players in juniors Jack Belconis/Marco Czosnyka.
Saeed/Wang have a shot at landing a top-4 doubles seed at next month's 2A state tournament. Hawks coach Gerald Smith deployed Belconis/Czosnyka at No. 1 doubles in Maine South's dual versus Fenwick on Saturday to give them a taste of doubles action.
But nobody moped for long. The sun warmed folks at both sites, and the steady sound of rackets striking tennis balls was harmonious.
"The theme of the day was, 'Get the kids out there and let them play,' " said Schaumburg coach Jonathan Schaefer, whose Saxons finished with a 1-1-1 record at Rolling Meadows, tying the host Mustangs in their final dual. "It was nice all day, even with the strong wind. Fun day all around."
Rolling Meadows also went 1-1-1, ahead of Fenwick (0-3). St. Viator wound up runner-up at Palatine with a 1-1-1 mark, in front of Palatine (1-2) and St. Charles East (0-2-1), which fielded a split squad, with other varsity Saints battling at the West Aurora invite.
Naperville Central won 6-0 thrice.
"Class of the tournament," Palatine coach Jim Lange said of the program that placed fifth in Class 2A at the 2019 state tournament.
The Redhawks' top singles player is sophomore Vincent Yin, who, because of the pandemic, is in his freshman season.
"He's super consistent, a grinder, gets to every ball ... a gnat, with great instincts," said Naperville Central coach and 2011 Naperville Central graduate Chris Harrison, a tennis pro at the Five Star Tennis Center in Plainfield.
Others in Harrison's formidable lineup included Charlie Morgan, Uju Kim, Vince Staputis, Daniel Rabinovich, Kevin Ho, Jeremy Zhao and Daniel Wu.
In addition to Belconis/Czosnyka, Maine South rolled behind Giona Marcafferri, Nikita Stoyanov, Jack Tucker, Joey Paxhia, Jack Hartung, Alec Nissen and Brandon Griffin.
Smith's enviable problem has to do with uncertainty. Maine South's coach doesn't have a clear-cut No. 1 singles netter.
"Evenly matched," he said of Belconis and Czosnyka.
Czosnyka, on Belconis: "Jack is good at getting to the ball, at grinding through points. He's strong at the net, too."
Belconis, on Czosnyka: "Don't hit it to his forehand. But his money shot is his flat serve, down the 'T.' "
St. Viator sophomore Michael McManaman helped the Lions record another kind of T -- a tie -- with St. Charles East. McManaman edged sophomore Sam Evans 6-3, 5-7 (10-7 super tiebreaker) at No. 1 singles to stalemate that dual at 3-3.
Viator coach Amy Ritche's Lions swept the three doubles matches in their 4-2 defeat of Palatine in round 3 of the round-robin. Nathan Kochera/Colin Farley (No. 1) and Colin Kochera/Robby Wallen (No. 3) won in straights, while Colin Toomey/Matthew Onischuk clinched the triumph at No. 2 via a 10-4 super breaker.
Ritche, a St. Charles East grad, didn't take up tennis until she was in her 30s. She stood out in volleyball and softball at SCE and coached softball for 20 years.
"The net's lower in tennis than it is in volleyball -- I had to at least try to play this sport," Ritche, an aggressive volleyer and server, cracked.
Palatine downed St. Charles East 5-1 in the schools' first test Saturday morning. Lange received victories from Jackson Spurck (No. 1 singles), Hayden Williams (No. 2), Charles de Fiesta (No. 3), Connor Loftus/Colin Bertrand (No. 2 doubles) and Puneet Virdi/Ravi Shah (No. 3).
St. Charles East's Quincy Moss and Evans won 6-4, 6-4 at No. 1 doubles.
Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg each downed Fenwick. Rolling Meadows' lineup Saturday featured four seniors and four freshmen; senior Shea Abernethy (No. 1) and freshman Chris Limber (No. 2) notched singles wins against the Friars. Schaumburg competed without its No. 1 singles player, sophomore Victor Dorojan, who took care of a previous commitment; junior Diego Alvarez filled in on the top court and earned one of the victories in Schaumburg's 4-2 defeat of Fenwick.