Girls tennis: Benet ready for 2A challenge

  • Benet's Clare Lopatka plays in the #1 singles girls tennis match against Downers Grove North's Liveta Ezerskis Monday in Lisle.

    Benet's Clare Lopatka plays in the #1 singles girls tennis match against Downers Grove North's Liveta Ezerskis Monday in Lisle. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Downers Grove North's Liveta Ezerskis eyes the ball during Monday's #1 singles girls tennis match against Benet's Clare Lopatka in Lisle.

    Downers Grove North's Liveta Ezerskis eyes the ball during Monday's #1 singles girls tennis match against Benet's Clare Lopatka in Lisle. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Benet's Meredith Converse returns a Downers Grove North serve during Monday's #2 singles girls tennis match in Lisle.

    Benet's Meredith Converse returns a Downers Grove North serve during Monday's #2 singles girls tennis match in Lisle. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Benet No. 1 doubles players Felicity Kolb, left, and Kaitly Lee play against Downers Grove North Monday in Lisle.

    Benet No. 1 doubles players Felicity Kolb, left, and Kaitly Lee play against Downers Grove North Monday in Lisle. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Downers Grove North sisters Meghan Southworth, left, and Kate Southworth talk between points during Monday's #1 doubles girls tennis match against Benet in Lisle.

    Downers Grove North sisters Meghan Southworth, left, and Kate Southworth talk between points during Monday's #1 doubles girls tennis match against Benet in Lisle. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Downers Grove North's Emily Whitmer plays in a doubles game against Benet during Monday's girls tennis match in Lisle.

    Downers Grove North's Emily Whitmer plays in a doubles game against Benet during Monday's girls tennis match in Lisle. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Downers Grove North #1 doubles player Meghan Southworth returns a Benet hit during Monday's girls tennis match in Lisle.

    Downers Grove North #1 doubles player Meghan Southworth returns a Benet hit during Monday's girls tennis match in Lisle. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
By Scott Schmid
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/13/2021 8:25 PM

After back-to-back sectional titles and a state trophy in 2019, the Benet girls tennis team has been bumped up to Class 2A this fall.

But if the beginning stages of this season are any indication, the Redwings are ready to meet the moment.

 

Two days after finishing as the runner-up at the St. Charles East invite, Benet improved to 9-1 in dual meets with an 8-0 victory over Downers Grove North in Lisle Monday.

"It will definitely be more challenging (moving from A to AA for the state series)," said Felicity Kolb, one of 10 seniors on the squad, "but we are up for the challenge. It will be fun and it will be a good experience."

Kolb and fellow senior Kaitlyn Lee posted a 6-1, 6-1 win at No. 1 doubles. Lee won a state doubles title in 2019 before teaming with Kolb last fall where the duo didn't drop a set in capturing the St. Francis sectional title.

"I think we have a lot of new talent on the team which is nice," Lee said. "The freshmen are obviously new and it's great to have a bunch of new skill sets. It's really exciting."

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Two of those freshmen played singles on Tuesday, with Clare Lupatka notching a 6-1, 6-0 decision at No. 1 singles and Meredith Converse adding a 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 2 singles.

Benet has to replace four-time state qualifier Daniella Nenadovich, who graduated last year.

"It's been really exciting so far," said Lupatka, who finished second at the St. Charles invite. "I've had a lot of fun. It's nice meeting new people and bonding together as a team.

"As a team, we've had a pretty good season so far and I'm looking forward to our matches to come. Individually I would say my game is in a good spot right now. I still have a couple of things to work on but other then that, it's pretty solid."

Also victorious for the Redwings were the doubles teams of Claire Converse and Shane Delaney, Avery Lazaro and Maggie Rhoads, Ishaa Jain and Claudia Quick, Riley Conway and Viki Saulis and Emma Hemsworth and Adriana Enacopol.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It's a nice stepping stone for our program," Benet coach Michael Hand said about the mix of youth and experience on his roster. "I think the freshmen are getting the lay of the land from the seniors. I'm happy with where we are at."

The Trojans were coming off a third-place showing at the Waubonsie Valley invite on Saturday where Gina Liu captured first place at No. 3 singles on her birthday. DGN also has dual meet wins over Addison Trail, Hinsdale South and West Aurora so far.

"We have a strong No. 1 singles player (Emily Wittmer)," DGN coach Dana Graczyk said. "She's only a sophomore and she's a hard worker who is always improving. And our No. 1 doubles team (sisters Kate and Meghan Southworth) is solid. They are developing."

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