Boys tennis: Stevenson's strong doubles play nets title at Buffalo Grove
A clean sweep at all three flights of doubles was enough to help Stevenson lift its first major trophy of the season Saturday afternoon at the Buffalo Grove invitational, and in doing so gave new head coach Izzy Balase his first big title of his young career.
A long three-set contest at No. 2 doubles saw the Patriots duo of Ervin Perkowski and Daniel Jaworski outlast the opponents from Glenbard North, Brandon Chie and Ryan Jeon, 6-3, 6-4. That clinched the team title with 44 overall points, five more than the Spartans' 39.
Fierce winds and the first real warm day of this tennis season would great this 8-team field. The field included Conant, a late addition to this annual invite after Bartlett was forced to drop out due to several players falling ill.
Conant finished third with 26 points, while doubles venue host Palatine was fourth with 17 points.
"I was real proud of our effort today to give us some momentum heading into a very busy week that includes matches with Zion-Benton, Glenbrook South, Lake Forest, then the Pitchford 32 next Friday and Saturday," said Balase.
"There's a lot of great Patriots tennis tradition which our former longtime head coach Tom Stanhope made all possible. And with a nice core of returning players to help mentor our new guys, (we) feel like we'll be able to continue the tradition this spring," continued Balase.
His No. 1 man, Ashy Madhushankar, who is a returning state qualifier, fell in his final to Glenbrook North sophomore Konrad Kwiatkowski, 6-3, 6-0.
"I was our No. 2 a year ago behind Eric (Perkowski, third-place state medal winner) -- so to be the top guy, playing everyone's No. 1, is a big adjustment for me. But my confidence is growing with each match, despite the strength of my opponents, so I feel in the long run I'll be better for it when the postseason begins," said the affable junior, who was 3-2 at state last season.
Kwiatkowski, a state qualifier in his rookie season, learned plenty after winning three himself at the tournament a year ago.
"Being fit and mentally strong is something I realized is the way to compete with the top players this season, so that's something I worked on during the offseason," said Kwiatkowski.
His teammate at No. 2 singles, Milo Holleb, needed three sets to defeat Caden Zhao from Stevenson. At No. 3, Dustin Zhao gave the Patriots eight important points when he went past Kiril Anastasov (Conant) 6-1, 6-0 to claim the top prize.
No. 3 seed Apoorv Patel from Buffalo Grove held his seed after his victory over No. 4 Michael McManaman (St. Viator) who was at doubles in the Lions' sectional starting lineup last season.
"Apoorv gained a lot of experience last year as our No. 1 and has played a lot of very good players this spring thus far, so we're hoping he can make a strong run at sectionals to qualify for state," said Bison coach Michael Naughton.
"Matt has been playing real well for us as our No. 1, as have our one-dubs team of Colin Kochera and Andrew Firestone," said coach Mary Louise Blaney, who took over the girls program in the fall, and now is in charge this spring.
Kochera was a 1A state doubles qualifier a year ago.
Anthony Safonov and Karanvir Saini (Buffalo Grove) beat Conant's Anthony Davidson and Yu Kitahara 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the third-place match.