Boys tennis: Vernon Hills, Fremd among sectional champions
Rain, AP testing, prom, graduation, and, of course, more rain, threw tournament directors off course during the past two days of sectional tennis.
However, all prevailed, albeit with some moving to Monday to finish up play in order to qualify players into the Class 1A/2A state tournament that starts Thursday.
Here's a quick look at many of the area venues:
Class 1A at Lakes:
With all due respect to the rest of the field, the best story of all is that of Crystal Lake South's Jackson Schuetzle (18-5). He continued his remarkable comeback from a severe back injury that threatened to end his senior year.
The Gators star, third a year ago in 1A state, overcame a stress fracture in his spine in November to play 23 matches thus far, and earn a spot in the state field once more.
"There's little sign of that area healing completely, but I stretch a lot, take Advil, and just go out and play, because I did not want to miss playing my senior year," said Schuetzle, who will play next fall at Case-Western, and major in computer science.
Rain has kept this venue on hold for two days. For Schuetzle, he awaits his semifinal opponent when play resumes on Monday afternoon, either Gavin Murrie (Lakes) or Sean Lenhart from Wauconda.
Dylan Brannick and Memphis (Me) Gallego of Wauconda have already qualified for their second state tournament at doubles. The Bulldogs currently lead the field with 18 points.
At Vernon Hills:
Vernon Hills claimed its second straight sectional title Saturday afternoon after moving to Lifesport in Lincolnshire.
The Cougars were first and second at singles with Rohit Dashaputra taking home top honors after his freshman teammate, Aarush Vora, took an injury default before the team of Aditya Sabharwal and Andrew Tikhonov beat Miles Whalen-Adrian Larrea from Carmel, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
"All of us came here wanting to win another sectional title, and to go on and do even better than last year at state," said Sabharwal, who along with Tikhonov, will attend the University of Illinois in the fall.
Larsh Metha and Aaya Goula from Elgin Academy are on their way to state, as are Tony Pomeranets and Daniel Shchebalev (Vernon Hills) and Michael Todorov of Schaumburg Christian.
Class 2A at Cary-Grove:
There was no bigger surprise on Saturday after Barrington junior Deven Carse (23-1) upset top seed, and 2021 fifth place state medalist, Thomas Nelson (Jacobs, 33-2) in their marathon semifinal. The match began outdoors on the Trojans courts, and finished indoors at The Racket Club a few miles away in nearby Algonquin.
Befitting of a sectional final, or better yet, round of 16 at state, Carse prevailed, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 7-5 in the two hour-plus contest to book his spot in the final on Monday with teammate Pranav Gadiraju.
"Just a great match in which Deven was able to hit one more ball today in order to make Thomas work for every point extended beyond his great serve," said Broncos coach John Roncone, who qualified both of his doubles teams, as did Jacobs.
Cary-Grove senior Sam Kedzior (16-14) is the first to qualify since Owen Russell did so in 2013.
"Sam is just a great athlete, who also plays soccer and is involved in music here at school, and he is going to state because his approach, half-court game and confidence have improved tremendously in the second half of this season," says Trojans coach Amanda Schuetzle.
No. 3 seed Lucas Willett (20-10) stunned top seed Evan Glebov (Highland Park, 24-4) in straight sets to capture the singles title, and in the process help Deerfield edge the Giants 21-20 to claim the sectional crown.
Fans of both Buffalo Grove and Prospect tennis had plenty to celebrate as well when two of their own would advance into the state tournament after play was completed at College Park Athletic Club in Bannockburn.
Buffalo Grove junior Apoorv Sagar Pitta (15-7) became the first Bison to qualify since Alan Fijalkowski in 2014, while the Knights' young pair of Savid Motorga and Dimitriy Hutnyk (14-6) navigated their way through to advance.
"They had a great first year of varsity tennis. Dimitriy, a sophomore, played at No. 2 singles at JV last year, and the two of them were our highest finishers at conference (third)," said Knights coach Brad Rathe.
It was all Hersey and Fremd at this sectional venue that would end indoors at Midtown Athletic Club in Palatine.
Both state powers were even throughout both days of play until a win at third place by freshman Shashwat Srivasta (18-5) in three sets pushed the Vikings up and over Hersey for the big trophy.
"(Shash) was down 3-5, and a match point in the second set to come back to beat Jakub Pasielak, a very good player from Hersey in three sets to give us the points we needed to win the tournament," said Vikings coach Johnny Kent.
Fremd's top man, Andrew Spurck (21-1), easily won at singles, while the Hersey doubles team of Mitch Sheldon and Kacper Pasielak (23-0) cruised to victory.
Spurck and the Huskies duo will likely receive top 4 seeds at the Class 2A state tournament.
At Maine South:
On the strength of a sectional singles title from junior Henry Ros and state qualifying efforts from his doubles teammates, Wheaton North claimed the team title.
"Winning at singles, and having my team win (also) makes this year so much better than last year when I qualified to state," said Ros (24-8), who beat York senior Sam Wit 6-4, 6-2 in his final after a hard-fought straight-set victory over George Ciuca (Maine West, 18-6) in his semifinal.
"The wind was tough for both George and I, so it was important to keep my errors to a minimum, and take advantage of the wind when in my favor," added Ros, who overcame leg cramps in his left calf in his final.
Second place Maine South would celebrate a doubles title from Jack Balconis and Marco Czosnyka (33-2) who beat the York duo of Anthony Amieri and Nate Yu, 6-1, 6-4, to earn a second consecutive trip to state after both qualified a year ago in singles.
Stevenson would hold off Lake Forest (19-16) to earn the championship trophy by sending all four of its teams to state. Third place Libertyville (12 pts) and Mundelein (9 points) each sent one through.
Seniors Wils Warren and Connor Stelter were crowned doubles champions after beating Lake Forest's Tony Bosnjak and Kareen Alsikafi, 6-4, 6-2.
The Wildcats duo went 3-2 a year ago at state.
Mundelein senior Kevin Edquiban (26-5) earned himself a well-deserved first spot in the state field with his third-place finish. The Loyola Chicago-bound Edquiban is the first Mustang to advance since Alex Golovan did so in 2007.
Stevenson junior Ashvath Madhushankar (13-9) earned his second straight appearance at state after his second-place finish in singles.