Boys tennis: Belconis, Maine South capture sectional titles
As finals play began Saturday morning at the Maine South boys tennis sectional, the host school found itself in a position of having to battle it's closest competition, Wheaton North, for both the singles and doubles individual titles as well as top team honors.
Each school placed a pair of competitors to fill up the singles semifinal bracket while both had an entry in the doubles semis.
However, each school on the doubles side of the ledger would have to get past an entry from Glenbard West as its top two duos had made it into the final four.
When all was said and done, top team honors wouldn't be settled until third-place play wrapped up as the Hawks took the bronze medal matches in both to hold off the Falcons for the title by just 2 points, 26-24, with Glenbard West (22) taking third. It was Maine South's first sectional plaque since 2003 and fifth overall in school history.
Maine South and Wheaton North will each send four competitors to next week's IHSA state finals, hosted by Hersey.
"It's fantastic," Maine South coach Jerry Smith said. "A lot of credit goes to these guys right here. They put in all of the hard work. They've supported each other. They've done that all year and it's really paid off."
South junior Jack Belconis captured his second trip to state with a pair of 6-1 wins over Henry Ros of Wheaton North to capture the singles crown.
Belconis paid credit to his opponent's effort, which made the triumph a much taller task than the score indicated.
"He's so solid. He makes you hit the extra ball," Belconis said of Ros. "When you think it's over, it's really not. You've got to be focused and put the point away."
Belconis also cited a simple luck of the draw for having had a first-round bye in Friday's preliminary action as opposed to Ros having three matches.
"The later it gets in the tournament, the more it is about physicality and how your body is holding up," Belconis said. "And I think I was able to wear him down a little."
The Glenbard West combo of junior Sully Monteith and senior Andrew Immink took the doubles crown in a pair of 6-1 wins over the Wheaton North brother tandem of Vaughn and Bernard Smith.
Immink credited their ability to adjust to the power game their opponents brought with them.
"It was tough at the beginning," Immink said. "Then we got in our groove and started playing well."
For Monteith, it marked a culmination of sorts, having moved from singles play two years ago as a freshman.
"It's definitely been a process," Monteith said. "We've definitely come a long way from where we first started this season."