Girls tennis: Lake Zurich freshman Boianov nets sectional championship

By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/16/2021 6:47 PM

One used heavy groundstrokes to finish points.

The other, the one across the net from the heavy hitter, played with a heavy heart that might have weighed slightly less than an anvil.


Lake Zurich freshman Katrine Boianov, seeded second, and Rolling Meadows senior Hanna Haber, seeded fifth, battled for the singles championship at Saturday's Class 2A Fremd girls tennis sectional in Palatine.

The 5-foot-7 Boianov -- composed, shrewd and, at opportune times, powerful -- constructed points effectively throughout a businesslike 6-2, 6-1 victory and improved her record to 24-7. Haber had downed top-seeded sophomore Valentina Bellagamba of Deerfield 6-3, 6-4 in a semifinal Saturday morning after edging Prospect freshman and fourth-seeded Kara Pescaru 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in a quarterfinal that started Friday afternoon and concluded Saturday morning.

But more than tennis was on Haber's mind on a chilly, sunny, breezy Saturday. The Mustang, now a first-time state qualifier, missed last weekend's Mid-Suburban League tournament to grieve the death of her former softball coach, Al Marchetti, the engaging father of Haber's best friend since kindergarten, Emma, and husband of Tracy.

Emma and Tracy watched Haber strike winners Saturday morning.

"I went to his wake on Tuesday and had a part in his funeral the next day," said a drained Haber, whose father, Mike, teaches tennis in Palatine, and whose mother, Tanya, played tennis at DePaul. "For a while I didn't think I'd be able to even think about playing another tennis match; I was so sad. But I decided to play for him. Every time I looked up at the sky in my matches, I thought of him.

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"Friday, I saw a rainbow."

Saturday afternoon, Deerfield coach Rich Koukol got an eyeful of Deerfield's school colors on two courts, simultaneously. His top doubles team of senior Allison Lee/junior Bella Schoen (seeded No. 1) defeated his No. 2 doubles team of freshman Abbey Lee/junior Natalie Schoen 6-4, 6-4 in the doubles final, and his No. 2 singles player, freshman Liza Gleyzer, topped Bellagamba 6-0, 6-3 in the match for third place.

"Our youngsters have sparked our older girls all season; they're vocal and go-getters and tournament players, and they bring fun and energy," said Koukol, whose squad amassed a sectional-best 31 points, well ahead of runner-up Rolling Meadows (16). Fremd placed third (11), followed by a trio of teams (Prospect, Lake Zurich and Buffalo Grove) with 10 points apiece.

The top four finishers in each of the 16 sectional singles and doubles draws netted state berths. The state meet starts Thursday and ends Saturday at tournament host Buffalo Grove and other sites.

The doubles semifinal between Deerfield's Abbey Lee/Natalie Schoen and Fremd seniors Sonal Matta/Gracie Ha began Saturday morning and threatened to end in early 2025. The pair of Warriors, seeded third, escaped with a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) decision that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes.


"That match, I'm telling you, it ... had ... everything," awed-to-the-core Vikings coach Scott Newmark said of the highly entertaining match that featured top-flight shotmaking from all four players.

"That could have been a state semifinal, easily. Great, great tennis."

Matta/Ha (18-3), a potent combo that went 25-1 in last fall's truncated season, secured their third state berth with a 6-1, 6-0 quarterfinal win Friday. The Vikes solved Prospect seniors Katherine Doyle/Natalie Katsaros 6-3, 6-0 in the match for bronze Saturday.

"Who'd be more aggressive? Who'd attack more?" Matta said of the lengthy semifinal. "That's what the match came down to, really."

"Such a competitive match," Ha added. "We're super excited to compete together at one more state meet."

Prospect's Katsaros received her fourth-place medal on the eve of her 18th birthday. Doyle turns 18 on Wednesday, the eve of the pair's first state appearance.

"We entered this sectional with the mindset, 'Play like we know we can play,' " Katsaros said.

"And," Doyle added, "to not overthink. All we wanted to do, in every match, was play hard, hit through the ball, be competitive."

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