Boys tennis: Stevenson savors 20th NSC championship
North Suburban Conference boys tennis tournament directors' decision to move play inside proved to be a brilliant one when, at three different area venues, play came to an end with Stevenson claiming the top prize for the 20th time in program history.
Inspired by a clean sweep of all four flights at doubles, the Patriots outscored longtime league rival Lake Forest, 40-28, and third-place finishers Libertyville and Warren (17) Friday afternoon at College Park Athletic Club in Lincolnshire.
Seniors Payton Adkisson-Daniel Tulchinskiy earned their second straight NSC title when they beat Wils Warren-Connor Stetler (Libertyville) in straight sets at No. 1 doubles.
"We were a little disappointed with our overall effort at the Pitchford (third place) so we went back and worked at cleaning some things up and our execution as well," said Tulchinskiy following the Pats' 6-1, 6-3 victory in the final.
The Patriots' duo will likely earn the No. 1 seed at their own sectional next weekend.
The Warren-Stetler team will be one to watch in the postseason following its straight-set win over No. 2 seed Lake Forest in the semifinals to advance into the final.
"We've been the Nos. 1 and 2 players at singles for our team and have just recently come together at one-dubs, but we feel like we've gotten better each time out and have a real good chance of getting to state if we continue playing well," said Warren, who was the Wildcats' No. 1, while Stetler handled things at No. 2.
"We're playing with more energy, and moving a lot more out on the court, especially against Lake Forest," added Stetler, whose team plays at the Deerfield sectional.
Top seed Thomas Gong (Stevenson) won the title at No. 3 singles after his 6-1, 6-1 defeat of Lance Heine of Lake Forest.
While perennial Central Suburbn League powers Deerfield and Highland Park were fighting it out for the North Division title on Saturday at host Niles North, Coach Doug Gerber likes what he's been seeing all season long from his team at Vernon Hills (18-4-1, 3-2-0) and now the Cougars look to ready themselves for their own Class 1A sectional next weekend following play at the CSL North tournament.
"It's been a terrific season thus far for us. We finished second recently at the Palatine 16-team Invite, we have three juniors in our lineup at singles, and our doubles teams are 'this' close to each other, which should give us a very good chance of getting ourselves several of our guys into the state tournament," said Gerber, who advanced three to the tournament in 2019, including his current No. 1 man, Adidya Sabharwal, as well as Eric Rodriguez, who teams up with Andrew Tikhonov for the Cougars at No. 1 doubles.
Fremd would finally break the eight-year hold of Barrington on the Mid-Suburban League boys tennis trophy Saturday.
By using its superb depth at doubles to hold off the reigning champs, 56-51, to win the conference tournament at Buffalo Grove.
By virtue of its MSL West title, Barrington will share the overall championship with coach Matt Duncan's Fremd squad.
MSL East champion Hersey was third with 46 points, while Prospect rounded out the top four with 28 points.
"I was looking at all the press clippings the other day, and after my first two seasons as head coach when we had control of the MSL, it's been all Barrington since then so it feels good to finally win one away from them," said a proud Duncan, who watched his doubles teams win at Nos. 2, 3 and 4, plus an individual championship at No. 2 singles from freshman Andrew Spurck, who recently captured the crown at No. 2 singles at the Pitchford Invite.
"We obviously wanted to continue our streak here at the conference tournament, but (Duncan) has a great team, who played very well today so to share the overall trophy is a nice accomplishment for our boys," said Barrington coach John Roncone.
The Broncos were champions at two flights, No. 3 singles (Eishi Amaro) and at No. 1 doubles where Ammar Wazir-Ethan Park (22-3) sent off No. 1 seed Mitch Sheldon-Kacper Pasielak (Hersey) 6-4, 6-3, needing just over 90 minutes to claim the top prize for the No. 1 seed.
"We've known each other for a long time, so we have great chemistry out there and things kind of came together for us right away this year," said Wazier, himself a two-time state qualifier at singles.
Hersey senior Max Sheldon won his third consecutive MSL crown with an impressive performance over Casey Hishinuma (6-4, 6-3) to solidify his top seed at the Glenbrook South sectional, and as one of the favorites to win a state singles title in two weeks.