Girls tennis: Maine West doubles team shines at Grayslake Central

By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/11/2021 6:19 PM

Ali Krieger knew exactly what to do when she awoke Saturday morning and eyeballed "5:55" on her clock.

"Make a wish," Krieger, half of Maine West's No. 1 doubles team, said at Saturday's Grayslake Central girls tennis invite.


"I wished that we'd win a medal today."

It came true. But Krieger, a senior, and Montana Walker, a junior, didn't have to hope for hardware in muggy conditions. The pair of Warriors earned a flight championship, edging Grayslake Central seniors Aviva Krill and Grace Walker 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 (super tiebreaker) in the No. 1 doubles final held at Grayslake North.

"Working together and staying communicative," Krieger said of what lifted them in their 3-0 day at the 8-team, 5-flight event. "And Montana's serves, low and hard, along with her deep groundies, were effective."

Grayslake Central's squad, short-handed but still hard to beat, finished atop the team standings, tallying 26 points to runner-up Grayslake North's 23. Maine West took third (22), followed by Antioch and Mundelein (21 points each), Wheeling (14), Round Lake (12) and Waukegan (1).

GC senior ace Karishma Bhalla (ACT testing) and Rams freshman doubles player Sasha Baer (illness) missed the invite.

No matter. GC's 1 flight championship and depth proved formidable. Rams seniors Kelsey Halvorsen and Ashna Desai captured the title at No. 3 doubles with a 6-0, 6-0 defeat of GN's Cheryl Jenkins/Brina Pagac. But don't let the double-bagel result fool you.

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"That's a very good Grayslake North doubles team," Halvorsen said after she and Desai improved to 7-3 this fall. "We were in control, taking it one ball at a time. We had to do that."

"We remembered to stay focused," added Desai, who punched angled crosscourt volleys and struck down-the-line groundstrokes with equal aplomb.

GN junior Bella Moran plays soccer and tennis equally well. The Knight even displayed her soccer skills in between points in the No. 2 singles final staged at Grayslake Central. The fun-loving Moran (7-0) used her feet to juggle a tennis ball at least six consecutive times near the end of her 6-0, 6-3 defeat of Mundelein senior Teresa Burk.

"Soccer is her jam, but she's also incredibly talented in tennis," said Knights coach Ashley Kopecky, filling in for Jill Tomasello. "And she's such a good sport -- respectful and kind to her opponents."


A sore hip is no fun. Antioch senior Natalie Labicki powered through the lingering injury en route to the No. 1 singles title Saturday. She'd incurred it at last weekend's Cary-Grove invite, where the Sequoit netted runner-up honors at No. 1 singles.

"Natalie's game continues to evolve," Antioch coach Jamie D'Andrea said after Labicki solved GN senior Meg George 6-3, 6-0 in the match for gold at No. 1. "She controls points. She likes to bide her time, hit methodically and pick her spots to go for winners."

Other notable results Saturday included Maine West's Domenica Bondi/Kaya Prichisky (1st, No. 2 doubles); GC's Liz Madjarov/Sravya Yellapragada (2nd, No. 2 doubles); Wheeling freshman Sara Durmisevic (3rd, No. 2 singles); MW's Emily Halat (3rd, No. 1 singles, after a highly competitive match for 3rd with Mundelein's Gabi Lipske); Mundelein's Brenda Mondragon/Haydn Nuttall (3rd, No. doubles); Antioch's Mackenzie Carley/Paige Wilson (3rd, No. 2 doubles); and Round Lake's Annette Trujillo/Aerith Huerta-Torres (3rd, No. 3 doubles).

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