Boys tennis: Jacobs, St. Charles North playing well
The Jacobs boys tennis team is off to a 15-2 start overall and 6-0 in the Fox Valley Conference, led by a one-two singles punch few teams can match.
Junior Thomas Nelson and sophomore Kyle McNally have had tremendous seasons with 21-5 and 26-1 records, respectively. They both rank among the state's best for most wins.
"Both have recorded some impressive wins and close results with some of the state's top players and may both be top 16 seeds in the state tournament," Jacobs coach Jon Betts said.
While both Nelson and McNally are planning on playing collegiately, they do have different games. Nelson stands 6-foot-4 with one of the biggest serves in the state, "backed up by a steady ground game from the baseline," Betts said.
"Kyle doesn't have Thomas' size or serve, but he's a relentlessly aggressive player who is always attacking and looking for opportunities to move forward," Betts said.
Betts also is excited about what he's seen from the doubles lineup. Senior John Kaiser and junior Justin Cunningham top that group with wins over Conant, Edwardsville and Glenbrook South.
Jacobs is looking forward to matches next week against New Trier and Hersey before the postseason begins.
St. Charles North update:
The North Stars also have been sharp heading into this week with a 12-4 record including wins over Batavia and Palatine.
They are doing it with a young team that includes seven sophomores and a freshman.
Junior Mattas Ciabilis is the only player with returning varsity experience. Coach Sean Masoncup called him one of the three best players in school history who will be a first or second sectional seed.
Ciabilis has wins over Wheaton North, Conant and Deerfield and a 4-6, 2-6 loss to the defending state champ.
Sophomore Tej Shah is the Hawks' top player with a 12-1 record. His only loss is to Jackson Schuetzie from Crystal Lake South early in the season. He's ranked No. 18 in Illinois by the Tennis Reporting Power Rating (TRPR).
Bartlett is finishing up its Upstate Eight matches this week before next week's conference tournament, which will be held at Glenbard South for singles and Glenbard East for doubles. Coach Colleen Brandner said the Hawks are looking for a top-three finish.
Brandner likes the team's depth of 17 varsity players. Senior Rohan Gandhi and junior Sahil Patel are playing first doubles, juniors Jacob Kolano and Zachary Kolano are at second doubles with juniors Mandar Brahmhbatt and Ronit Nagarapu at third doubles.
Three more juniors -- Nathan Mork, Matt Brendel and Ethan Kolan -- round out the singles lineup.
Junior first singles Kohl Winkle and junior first doubles Hank McClure are the only two players in Batavia's lineup that had played a varsity match prior to this season.
Despite that inexperience, which includes three freshmen and three sophomores in the lineup, Batavia is 12-7 and 4-3 in the DuKane Conference.
"I am proud of the way our guys have stepped up," Batavia coach Brad Nelson said. "They love to play and show great enthusiasm for the game."
Sophomore Zach Olson worked his way into the lineup in the first couple weeks of the season and is 10-2. Freshman Erik Warner has an 11-10 record at No. 2 singles against a very tough schedule, Nelson said.
"Zach and Erik had very little prior match experience coming into the season, so I have been very impressed by their progress," Nelson said.
In doubles, sophomores Sanjay Dave and Sriram Swaminathan are 11-4 at No. 3, and will take the second seed into next week's conference tournament.
For the first time under Nelson, Batavia does not have a single senior on its roster.
"We will have a solid nucleus heading to next season," Nelson said.
The Vikings (9-13-1) have had more than their share of 3-4 losses against a tough schedule that includes Hersey, Naperville Central, Metea Valley and Waubonsie Valley.
Geneva entered the season with only two varsity returnees.
"We were a very senior heavy team, but had very little experience at the varsity level," Geneva coach Ryan Barabasz said. "And many of our players started playing tennis within the last year. We have continued to improve as the year has gone on."
One highlight has been the play of Geneva's first and second doubles teams. At first doubles, Cal McKittrick and Sam Mickus are 15-5 with tough losses to Naperville Central and Hersey and a big win against Naperville North.
At second doubles, Ryan Cedergren and Dylan Lahey are 8-4 and haven't lost a conference match.
Third singles player Nathan Lieu is a good example of the improved play for the Whips, who started the week at 3-11 overall and 0-7 in the FVC.
"Nathan, just a week prior, was hitting slower balls down the middle of the court," Hampshire coach Dylan Clark said. "On Thursday against Huntley, he was hitting more aggressive topspin balls and mixing it up like an experienced singles player. He managed to get three games in the first set from Huntley's third singles player, who is undefeated in our conference."
Clark said the match with Huntley, despite the 7-0 loss, was their best of the season and showed the progress they are making.
Metea Valley update:
The Mustangs are one of the better area teams this spring at 10-3 including a 5-2 win over Wheaton Warrenville South.
That match against Patti Clousing's Tigers brought out a little friendly family rivalry for the Mustangs, coached by Kole Clousing -- Patti's son.
Metea Valley also played Naperville Central to a tight 4-3 loss.
The No. 1 doubles team of Nikunj Tyagi and Akshay Baid have been solid all season. First singles Varun Ramprakash and second singles Aadit Gandhi also are playing well, as are the second doubles team of Shankar Jambunathan and Matt Chen.
"We are hoping to qualify all four for state this year," Kole Clousing said.
Wheaton North update:
Despite only having one senior, the Falcons are 10-3 overall and 5-0 in the DuKane Conference.
"We should be very competitive for the next few years," Falcons coach Eric Lair said.
Wheaton North's doubles teams are all undefeated in conference. Its No. 1 doubles team of Bernard Smith and Vaughn Smith are 9-3 and second doubles Devon Jones and Will Parilli are 9-4.