Girls tennis: Timothy Christian starts strong at state

  • York's Lizzie Isyanov plays Marist's Molly Malloy, during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    York's Lizzie Isyanov plays Marist's Molly Malloy, during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • York's Lizzie Isyanov plays Marist's Molly Malloy, during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    York's Lizzie Isyanov plays Marist's Molly Malloy, during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Bartlett's Jessica Popiol plays Moline's Karenna Zemek during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    Bartlett's Jessica Popiol plays Moline's Karenna Zemek during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Benet's Meredith Converse plays O'Fallon's Kelsey Dismukes, O'Fallon during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    Benet's Meredith Converse plays O'Fallon's Kelsey Dismukes, O'Fallon during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Benet's Meredith Converse plays O'Fallon's Kelsey Dismukes, O'Fallon during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    Benet's Meredith Converse plays O'Fallon's Kelsey Dismukes, O'Fallon during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Benet's Meredith Converse plays O'Fallon's Kelsey Dismukes, O'Fallon during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    Benet's Meredith Converse plays O'Fallon's Kelsey Dismukes, O'Fallon during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Downers Grove North's Emily Wittmer plays St. Charles North's Allison Gizewicz during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    Downers Grove North's Emily Wittmer plays St. Charles North's Allison Gizewicz during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Downers Grove North's Emily Wittmer plays St. Charles North's Allison Gizewicz during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    Downers Grove North's Emily Wittmer plays St. Charles North's Allison Gizewicz during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles North's Allison Gizewicz plays during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    St. Charles North's Allison Gizewicz plays during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • St. Charles North's Allison Gizewicz plays during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    St. Charles North's Allison Gizewicz plays during the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Naperville Central's Sofia Olaru walks off the court during her match with Kylee Del Vecchio of Belleville East during a rain delay at the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex.

    Naperville Central's Sofia Olaru walks off the court during her match with Kylee Del Vecchio of Belleville East during a rain delay at the IHSA Class 2A Girls State Tennis Finals Thursday October 21, 2021 in Vernon Hills at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
By Bobby Narang
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/21/2021 7:01 PM

Timothy Christian sophomore Crystina Lee made her first trip to the state tournament a memorable experience on Thursday.

For the Trojans, it might turn out to a historic experience, too.

 

Lee won all three of her matches in the Class 1A state tournament to advance to Friday's quarterfinal round.

Her strong individual performance put the Trojans in prime position to earn a trophy, and make program history. In all, the Trojans tallied 15 points to top the previous mark of 11 points, which was set twice, according to Timothy Christian coach Keith Mills.

"I'm very happy with our team's outcome," Mills said. "We talked about beating two goals: scoring more than 11 points and getting a trophy. Our highest finish was 10th, so we could finish in the top five. We're shooting for a trophy."

Mills said Lee (34-3) helped vault the Trojans into rare territory with her consistent play on Thursday. Playing at Hersey High School, Lee cruised to a two-set win in her first match, but found herself locked in a grueling battle against Peoria Notre Dame's Mary Breitbach in the second round.

Lee pulled out an emotional 6-2, 3-6, 10-7 win to advance to the third round, where she defeated Champaign St. Thomas More's Maddy Swisher 6-1, 6-2.

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"I'm pretty happy with how I did today," Lee said. "I definitely felt there were times I could've done much better. The second (match) was pretty frustrating. I went into it thinking I was seeded and the other girls wasn't, so it could be over quickly. But she was a great player. I had to keep the ball in play, and just tried to do my best. I learned a lot. I was down 5-0 in the second set. I learned I have to keep positive. It was a great experience for me."

Mills said Lee showed some resolve overcoming the cold and windy conditions in her first state experience.

"She had a super tiebreaker in the second round, so that helped build her confidence because in her next match, she cruised," Mills said.

Lee, who has lost just two singles matches all season and one in doubles, waited her turn to play at No. 1 singles for Timothy Christian. She had a familiar person in her way last year: Her older sister, Cassandra. The younger Lee was a sectional doubles champion last season.

"Cassandra had such great composure, and was such a leader on the court and was always enjoying herself," Crystina said. "I learned from her to always keep my head up and be positive."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mills said Crystina Lee made the best out of her one-year wait to play at No. 1 singles.

"Crystina is a singles player, but her sister was on the team last year," Mills said. "She would sometimes alternate at singles, but she was too good to play second singles. She's got all the tools to be top eight as a sophomore, and maybe higher next year. She has really built her mental game. She has a really nice serve and she went to the net today in her second match. That proved to be the difference."

Elgin Academy's Addison Lanton and Noelle Lanton won all three of their matches, losing only one set in the process. They beat a team from Ottawa, 6-0, 6-0, won by the same score over Carmi, and in the third round defeated a Robinson team, 6-0, 6-1. They play a Paola Almeda and Layla Shah from Chicago University in the quarterfinals Friday.

In Class 2A, Naperville North's all-freshmen doubles team of Brooke Coffman and Gabby Lee had a pair of memorable outings at Wheeling. They reached the third round, where they lost 6-2, 6-2 to Hinsdale Central's Sophia Kim and Katie Dollens.

"We did pretty good in winning our first two matches," Coffman said. "We fought a lot, learned a lot from our matches and are excited for the rest of the tournament. We both feel we can go far in the rest of the state tournament. We're learning every step of the way, not trying to put too much pressure on ourselves because we still have three more years to win it."

Gabby Lee said the three-set comeback win -- 4-6, 6-1, 10-5 -- against York's Ellie Duhig and Keira Polach in the second round was a signature moment.

"I think in our second match we elevated our game a lot," Gabby Lee said. "We were good at making adjustments."

Naperville North coach Heather Henricksen said Coffman and Lee have a bright future, both in the short and long-term.

"As freshmen, their composure was outstanding," Henricksen said. "These two really have a will to fight. They definltey have a lot of grit for their age. They were pretty fearless on the court. They were tested in the second round versus York, but their mental toughness helped them get through it. I admired and enjoyed what I saw from them. These two have the full package, along with the will to win."

Naperville Central's Sofia Olaru made quick work of her first two matches, winning both of them in two sets. Bartlett's Jessica Popiol won her first two matches in two sets at Stevenson to set up a third-round matchup with Olaru.

Meanwhile, Benet had two singles players and two doubles teams competing in state. Clare Lopatka lost her first round match, but battled in the back draw to win her next three matches to highlight Benet's showing on the first day at state.

"We have kind of a changing of the guard because we have three seniors and three freshmen," Benet coach Michael Hand said. "The seniors are enjoying themselves, and the three freshmen are trying to avoid the deer in the headlights (look)."

Kaya Trumbo and Isha Desai from Jacobs stayed alive in the back draw, picking up a pair of wins after dropping their second match. Teammate Kylie Cohn went 1-2.

Batavia's Bella Lins and Leah Puttin also are still playing in the back draw after winning their first two matches Thursday, then dropping a third-round match.

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