Boys tennis: Hinsdale Central wins 25th state title

  • Hinsdale Central's Noah Hernandez, left, and Majtaba Ali-Khan played against one another in the Class 2A state tennis singles final at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Ali-Khan won 6-2, 6-2.

      Hinsdale Central's Noah Hernandez, left, and Majtaba Ali-Khan played against one another in the Class 2A state tennis singles final at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Ali-Khan won 6-2, 6-2. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hinsdale Central singles player Noah Hernandez rushes forward to play the ball at the net during the Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Hinsdale Central singles player Noah Hernandez rushes forward to play the ball at the net during the Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Benet Academy doubles players Noah Bobofchak, left, and Andrew Donovan stand with coach Michael Hand as they wait to shake hands with their opponents after losing to Chicago Latin during the Class 1A boys state tennis final at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Benet Academy doubles players Noah Bobofchak, left, and Andrew Donovan stand with coach Michael Hand as they wait to shake hands with their opponents after losing to Chicago Latin during the Class 1A boys state tennis final at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hinsdale Central singles player Noah Hernandez stretches to keep the ball in play during the boys Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Hinsdale Central singles player Noah Hernandez stretches to keep the ball in play during the boys Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Benent Academy doubles player John Yahiro plays the ball during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Benent Academy doubles player John Yahiro plays the ball during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Marmion singles player Benedict Graft hurries to play the ball at the net during the Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Marmion singles player Benedict Graft hurries to play the ball at the net during the Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Benet Academy doubles player Noah Bobofchak returns the ball during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Benet Academy doubles player Noah Bobofchak returns the ball during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Benet Academy doubles player Andrew Donovan returns the ball during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Benet Academy doubles player Andrew Donovan returns the ball during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Benet Academy doubles player John Yahiro plays the ball at the net during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Benet Academy doubles player John Yahiro plays the ball at the net during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Benet Academy doubles player Patrick Burke returns the ball during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Benet Academy doubles player Patrick Burke returns the ball during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Benet Academy doubles player Patrick Burke reacts after he and partner John Yahiro earned a point during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Benet Academy doubles player Patrick Burke reacts after he and partner John Yahiro earned a point during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Benet Academy doubles player Andrew Donovan plays the ball at the net during the boys Class 1A state tennis finals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Benet Academy doubles player Andrew Donovan plays the ball at the net during the boys Class 1A state tennis finals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hinsdale Central singles player Majtaba Ali-Khan plays the ball at the net during the Class 2A state tennis finals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Hinsdale Central singles player Majtaba Ali-Khan plays the ball at the net during the Class 2A state tennis finals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hinsdale Central doubles player Anthony Lipari Acknowledges the cheers of fans ans he updates the score during the Class 2A state tennis finals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Hinsdale Central doubles player Anthony Lipari Acknowledges the cheers of fans ans he updates the score during the Class 2A state tennis finals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hinsdale Central's Alex Kotarski returns the ball as he and doubles partner James theriault compete against Hersey during the Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Hinsdale Central's Alex Kotarski returns the ball as he and doubles partner James theriault compete against Hersey during the Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hindale Central doubles player Anthony Lipari returns the ball during the Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Hindale Central doubles player Anthony Lipari returns the ball during the Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Hinsdale Central doubles player Jai Vallurupalli can't quite get the ball to roll over the top of the net during the Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Hinsdale Central doubles player Jai Vallurupalli can't quite get the ball to roll over the top of the net during the Class 2A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Marmion singles player Benedict Graft hurries to play the ball at the net during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday.

      Marmion singles player Benedict Graft hurries to play the ball at the net during the boys Class 1A state tennis semifinals at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 5/28/2022 7:58 PM

Hinsdale Central is the Class 2A state tennis champions. Again.

The Red Devils capped a magnificent spring season by overwhelming the field Saturday to outscore second place New Trier (49-29) and third place Barrington (26) to claim its 25th state title in program history, while adding four more state medals to give them a dazzling 165 since winning its first way back in 1949.

 

"It's great to be a state champion at singles, and a part of another team champion here at Hinsdale Central," said senior Mujtaba Ali-Kahn (22-1) who beat teammate Noah Hernandez (22-1) in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2 to claim the eighth singles title in program history, and first since Robert Schmelka did so in 2019.

"Noah and I have played plenty of epic matches, (but) the turning point in this one (was) in our first set when it was 4-2 (and deuce) and he began to cramp. If it goes to 4-3, maybe it's a different match after that, it was too bad that happened to him," added Ali-Kahn, who will next season at Purdue, with an eye on a career in medicine afterward.

Red Devils teammates Jai Vallurupalli and Anthony Lipari (18-1) lost a marathon three-set final to top seed Hersey (Mitch Sheldon-Kacper Pacielak, 29-0) to give the Huskies their first doubles state champion following its 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory before an inspired home crown in Arlington Heights.

Earlier, the Huskies dynamic duo needed three sets (3-6, 6-2, 6-2) to send 3-4 seed Alex Kotarski and James Therialult (19-1) into the third-place match where they beat New Trier (Will Feeley-Jack Rivkin) 7-5, 7-6 (4).

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Michael Hand would lead his ESCC champions from Benet Academy to its best 1A state finish when his Redwings finished second to reigning state champion, Chicago Latin.

It might have been closer than the eventual 37-27 difference had the Redwings been able to stop doubles champions Will Benford and Sam Cutinho in the semifinals, and again in the doubles final when Noah Bobofchak and Andrew Donovan (22-3) came close to sending off their opponents during a two hour-plus final.

"We could both feel that third set slipping away. (We) lost our energy, and rhythm, and could never get it back," admitted Donovan, who along with Bobofchak looked sharp during the early stages of the third set, before nothing seemed to go right for the marvelous pair who last season were third-place state medal winners.

"We tightened up when it mattered most. (Couldn't) serve, or hit the shots we always do," added Bobofchak.

Two-seed John Yahiro and Patrick Burke (31-2) had their chance to pick off the state champions from Latin in their semifinal contest -- a match in which the Redwings looked to be in control of after a 6-4 first set victory, until dropping the next two sets, 7-5, 6-3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We had our chances to gain ground on Latin, but we were unable to (and) that final will obviously sting for awhile, but with that said, we had a great group of players, who had a great overall year, so we'll look to come back with a nice core of players next spring," said Hand.

Marmion freshman, Ben Graft (28-1) made history when the Cadets star singles player finished third overall in 1A singles play to become the first medal winner since 1953 when Ossie Ponce did so with his fifth-place finish.

Graft would fall in his semifinal to eventual state champion, Nicholas Patrick (Rock Island Alleman) but roar back to defeat Kiran Garapati (Latin) 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3).

"Patrick was a great player, who made all of his shots, and made it difficult for Ben because of his great first serves that set up points for him. (But) Ben enjoyed a great tournament, and showed he can play with everyone during his three days here," said a proud Cadets coach Brian Cole.

Jacobs senior Thomas Nelson fell short in his bid for a second consecutive state medal when eventual sixth-place winner, Pranav Gadiraju (Barrington, 27-6) beat the Marquette-bound Nelson (38-4) in his consolation semifinal, 6-3, 3-6, 11-9.

"Thomas was our first real star player to come to Jacobs, and since being here, he has been an incredible leader, superb player, and just a first class student-athlete who helped put Jacobs tennis on the map with his fine work, on and off the courts, to become the gold standard from here on out," said Jacobs coach Jon Betts.

Nelson won nearly 50 matches a year ago to help Jacobs to its best ever state finish as it tied with three others in fourth place.

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