Girls tennis: Scouting DuPage County and Fox
AURORA CENTRAL CATHOLIC
The Chargers, third in the Metro Suburban Red a year ago, join the Girls Catholic Association Conference White Division.
Coach Giselle Salazar welcomes back seniors Amanda Bush, Gabby Morales and Grace Ginocchio along with junior Matila Feldhaus.
Freshman Allison Fosco seeks playing time.
"Our goal is to implement the student-athlete," said Salazar. "We want to give 100% effort every time we take the court. We want to finish higher in the conference that we were ranked and have a state qualifier."
The Hawks' strength in 2023 will be doubles.
The No. 1 doubles team of seniors Ashwitha Sankar and Shreem Patel along with the second doubles duo of junior Rohini Sliwa and senior Aanya Narsariwala are back for Colleen Brandner's troops.
Senior Janine Villegas and freshman Aarushi Mehta are newcomers for the Hawks.
Bartlett hopes to improve on last season's third-place finish in the Upstate Eight.
"Our strength is our numbers and our kids' dedication to the program," said Brandner. "Our goal is to be better today than yesterday."
Brad Nelson is looking for a five-peat. The Bulldogs are seeking a fifth straight DuKane Conference title in 2023.
The Bulldogs ran the conference table last year with a perfect 7-0 mark.
"Team depth is a huge role determining the conference championship," said Nelson. "A lot of teams have experienced players at the top of lineup. The conference race is wide open. Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, St. Charles North and St. Charles East have experienced kids back."
The Bulldogs, St. Charles North Class 2A sectional champs and 43rd in the state in 2022, return state qualifiers senior Erin Connolly and junior Julia Arunadu.
Others back are seniors Addi Lowe, Kathryn Danosky, Nicci Wasmund and Juliana Soltis.
Newcomers include seniors Sophia Blankenship, Allison Hayden, Emily Newburn, Abby Arends and Addison Schaffer; and juniors Casey O Brien, Emma Larson, and Ainsley Steinys.
"We lost 8 of 11 from our lineup," said Nelson. "We want to compete in the weekend tournament and advance players to the state tournament."
Nelson looks at Hinsdale Central, York, Edwardsville, New Trier, Deerfield and Stevenson as top teams in the state.
The Redwings, who move down from Class 2A to 1A, were 16th in the state in 2A last year with 10 points.
Veteran coach Michael Hand must replace Adrianna Enacopal and Nora Mehring but has returning state qualifiers Meredith Converse and Shane Delaney and Claire Lopatka, DeLaney, Lopatka finished in the top 12 in 2A doubles play last season.
The Redwings, who were champions of the East Suburban Catholic Conference with a perfect 6-0 slate, were second in the sectional,
Others back are juniors Kate Jendra and Natalie Grover. Sophomores Claire DiSanto and Meaghan McCarthy will be in the mix.
"Our goal is to play our best tennis at the end of the season," said Hand. "We want to have strong showings in the conference and sectionals. We want to finish in the top five in 1A and qualify as many players to the state meet as possible."
The Trojans return six players from the 2022 squad which was second in the Fox Valley Conference and fifth at sectionals.
Bolstering Cary-Grove are seniors Addie Lee, Alaina Joseph, Becca Weaver, Katelyn O Malley and Chloe Warner and junior Aubrey Lonergan.
Newcomers to watch are seniors Rylie Zeman and Isabel Boksa along with juniors Eva Becirovic, Ellie Mjaanes, Michaela Fink, Dana Werner and Ava Bogner, and sophomore Megan Ptasek.
"We have a strong core of seniors who are eager to prove themselves," said coach Amanda Schuetzle. "We lost some key players but our returning players' work in the offseason could balance that off. We want to finish in the top three in the FVC. Huntley looks to be the favorite."
CRYSTAL LAKE SOUTH
The Gators, under the guidance of first-year coach Mark Scheurich, hope to improve on last season's fifth-place finish in the Fox Valley Conference.
South has a senior-laden team with Abby Jurrens, Hannah Lee, Emma Moore, Nevan Sanders and Aubrey Scheurich. Sophomore Ella Rankin is also back.
Newcomers include seniors Gia Crawford and Emily Stewart along with freshman Rachel Appelhans.
"We are a senior heavy team," said Scheurich. "We want to finish in the upper half of the FVC.'
The Chargers, led by returning seniors Rajul Shah and Karina McElroy, hope to improve on last season's seventh-place finish in the Fox Valley Conference.
"We want to try our best to finish higher than last year in the conference," said coach Yuto Tsukida. "We want to have a great and fun season. Hopefully we can get at least one player to the state meet."
The Hilltoppers sister duo of Noelle Lanton and Addison Lanton posted a perfect 32-0 slate and won the Class 1A state singles championship with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Chicago University's Paola Almeda-Sanskriti Sarav last season. Noelle Lanton has graduated while Addison Lanton returns for her junior season.
Senior Priyanka Bhogaru, a state qualifier in singles play, had to injury default her two state finals matches.
Elgin Academy, seventh in Class 1A a year ago, welcomes back seniors Saraya Singh and Eesha Peddhapati.
"We want to finish top five in the conference," said coach Sterling Perez. "We want to get two or more kids qualified for the state meet."
Perez looks at Elgin Academy, Chicago Latin, University High and Troy as the top teams in 1A.
DOWNERS GROVE NORTH
The Trojans are led by 2-time state qualifier Emily Wittmer, who was a Class 2A state qualifier as a sophomore in singles play and as a junior in doubles action.
Coach Dana Graczyk must replace state qualifier Kate Southwirth.
Graczyk is counting on junior Megan Southwirth and freshman Olivia Tan.
"We are hoping for an amazing season," said Graczyk
DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH
The Mustangs, the West Suburban Conference Gold champs a year ago, are led by junior state qualifier Antosia Olechowska and sophomore state qualifier Gabby Davis.
South, second in its Class 2A sectional, must replace graduated Nikola Hermanova.
"We want to repeat as gold champs and play with the elite teams," said coach Josh Forst. "We want to improve in the state series and qualify multiple entries to the state tournament."
Senior state qualifier Annie Tomko returns for the Vikings.
Others back are seniors Aashiken Jain and Lexi Meier. Newcomer freshman Corlett Klein seeks court time.
"We want to be competitive in the conference (DuKane)," said coach Zach Evans. "We are senior heavy with a good mix of underclassmen. We have done an excellent job of preparing for the season."
Veteran coach Bill Burt has carved out a 360-284 mark in 40 years. The Rams were 7-11 overall in dual meets and 7-2 in Upstate Eight Conference action last year.
Seniors back are Helen Jones, Claire Flanagan, Ella Book, Kaitlin Murphy, Alyssa Borbath and Leila Nehra. Newcomers include seniors Ava McMillan, Kayla Hickman, Milan Szczybura and Lindsay Ellis along with junior Taylor Kowallis and freshman Ari Moss.
"We want to finish higher in the Upstate Eight Conference and play our best tennis in the conference and sectional," said Burt.
The Panthers are led by returners seniors Leyna Early, Madeline Nguyen, Diya Shah and Isabella Deleon along with sophomores Sydney Gromala and Megan Reeder.
Freshman Carlie Bruk is expected to fill the No. 3 singles slot.
Others looking to play are seniors Briana Orozco and Sharon Zheng along with juniors Kristina Jones and Kelly Powers and sophomore izzi Burgoni.
"We are optimistic about the conference (DuKane) which is very challenging," said coach Caroline Gonzalez. "We feel we are ready to compete across all positions. We want to do well in our nonconference matches."
According to Gonzalez, the top teams in the state are Glenbard West and Hinsdale Central.
First-year coach Kevin Schillerstrom welcomes back senior Lorenza Foster Simbulan who finished in the top 12 in singles play.
Six seniors returning are Emily Puchalski, Sa Naya Allen, Bekah Brzezinshi, Allie Mizwicki, Tia Knuth and Skylar Fischer. Augusta Leimonas and Emily Ziekus are two newcomers to watch.
"We want to win conference (Upstate Eight) and punch two tickets to the state finals," said Schillerstrom.
The Hilltoppers return senior Mira Kernagis who was seventh in the state in 2A. Other state qualifiers back are senior Simone Annan and junior Audrey Creswell.
"The conference (West Suburban) is so strong," said coach Kevin Graham. "Hinsdale Central and York are two of the top five teams in the state. The battle will be for third and fourth. The rest of the schools are strong. We want to win the sectional and qualify multiple players for the state meet."
Coach Dylan Clark returns seniors Ava Carroll, Maria Misiaszek, Izzy Williamson and Christina Cruz.
Newcomers for the Whip-Purs are senior Robbin Llamas, sophomore Zonya Gay and freshman Lana Kimura.
The Whips seek a better than seventh place in the FVC.
"Our top players need to take the next steps," said Clark. "They need to improve and develop their games."
Can the Red Devils repeat as Class 2A state champions?
Coach Shawna Zsinko believes so.
"Our goal is to win conference (West Suburban), sectional and state," she said.
Zsinko's troops claimed the 2022 state title with 32 points.
The Red Devils must replace Sophia Kim (John Hopkins), Bridget Novatney (Virginia), Shannon Stover (Notre Dame) and Nicole Hu (Illinois).
Junior Abigail Gambia along with Stover were sixth in the state in doubles a year ago.
Courtney Bison, who was at York last season, begins her first season as the Hornets coach. The top returner is junior Chloe Goins, a state qualifier as a sophomore.
The Class 1A Hornets are looking for contributions from seniors Gabriella Brukasz, Magdalena Macleod, Arya Selvarej and Nikki Wu, and juniors Ava Chamberlain, Maya Chrzanowska, Ava Chvosta and Caitlyn Sutter along with sophomore Monika Aleksans.
"We want to be competitive in the West Suburban Gold," said Bison. "We want teamwork, hard work and to work together. We want to stick together and compete together."
Barry Wells, in his 18th season as the Red Raiders coach, returns a plethora of talent in search of repeating as Fox Valley Conference champs.
Huntley must replace 3-time state qualifier Elaina Hibbeler, but returns state qualifiers junior Kate Burkey and sophomore Ella Doughty.
Others back are seniors Ashley Phommasack and Ellie Pauwels, juniors Ari Patel and Carlie Weishaar along with sophomore Julie Klockner.
Seeking to break into the talented Red Raider lineup are newcomers juniors Shea Nagle, Vinuthna DePala, Trinity Nguyen and Sara Willis, sophomore Michelle Sobolewski and freshman Gia Patel.
"We graduated some very good players like three-time state qualifier Elaina Hibbeler but have quality starters back," said Wells. "We have good talent to fill the spots we lost."
Jon Betts, in his 19th season, must replace state qualifier Chloe Siegfort, who has taken her talents to Division II University of Sioux Falls.
Graduated seniors Amelia Stoner and Gabi Czeremuga are playing at Elgin Community College.
Junior state qualifier Kylie Cohn is the top player back for Betts. Others with experience are seniors Julia Burley, Sam Casey, Molly Dylo, Alexis Hill, Allie Maurus, Rachel Reed and Amelia Pollack along with junior Cam Clark.
Newcomers include senior Ameera Hussain, Sierra Travez and junior Ava Longo. The Golden Eagles hope to improve on last season's 25th-place finish at the Class 2A state meet.
"With all the returning and incoming talent, Huntley has to be the favorite in the FVC," said Betts. "We graduate tremendous talent but have many players with experience. We lean on our experience and competitiveness."
Betts looks at Hinsdale Central, New Trier and Stevenson as the top teams in the state.
The Knights, coached by Beth Miller, must replace graduated senior Lexi Maberry, who is playing at Waubonsee Community College.
Back for Kaneland are seniors Abby Grams, Lauren Andrews, Nola Noring and Kaci Randall with junior Ellie Taylor joining the team.
"We want to clean up some strokes and have some state qualifiers (Class 1A)," said Miller.
Christian Pawlak's troops are led by the state qualifying doubles team of senior Jacqueline Cozzi and senior Tanvi Murkonda.
Junior Neha Murkonda is a newcomer for the Lancers.
Pawlak looks at Naperville Central, Naperville North, Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South, Stevenson and Fremd as top teams in the state.
First-year coach Zaida DeBeck must replace graduated seniors Nicole Nosbisch and Abigail Bertram who will both play at Elgin Community College.
Returning for the Royals are seniors Katherine Munos and Grace Escobar and junior Natalia Hernandez. They will be joined by juniors Camilla Espinosa and Itzel Chavez. Larkin hopes to improve on a 4-5 upstate Conference mark.
"We want to be in the top half of the conference and have four all-conference players," said DeBeck.
First-year coach Oliver Schmidt has a 10-player roster which includes seniors A Deja Madison, Marissa Camacho, Kimberly Valencia and Zoya Shaik, sophomores Emily Lesniak, Lead Daci, Lucinda Knight, Rory Scott and Katie Sims and freshman Riley Collins.
"We are off to a good start," said Schmidt. "We want to build confidence."
Returning for the Mustangs and 10th-year coach Kole Clousing are senior Sangita Silva and juniors Sophie Cahue and Sareena Saleem.
"We want to be above .500 this year," said Clousing.
It is amazing Brooke Coffman and Gabby Lee are only juniors. Coffman and Lee placed second in doubles play in 2A a year ago.
"That is the best finish in school history," said 24th-year coach Heather Henricksen. "Brooke and Abby had an amazing season."
In 2022, the Huskies won the DuPage Valley and Class 2A sectional and were 11th in the state.
Joining Coffman and Lee in the lineup are returnees senior Aaryana Parekh, juniors Aanika Parekh and Hasini Peddu, and freshman Dhareni Raveendan.
"We graduated a lot of seniors so we strive to finish in the top half of the DVC," said Henricksen. "We strive for Brooke and Gabby to finish in the top four in the state."
The Wildcats, eighth in Class 2A a year ago, return junior Sophia Chiou who was in the top 24 in singles play at the state meet in 2022.
Other returners for Rose's troops are seniors Maya Ramen and Divya Ranjita and juniors Madalyn Finke, Zara Khan and Lauren Vavrak.
Neuqua Valley, 5-0 in the DuPage Valley and second in the conference tournament, were sectional champs.
"As always we want to win the conference," said Rose. "The conference is closer in terms of parity. It will take a lot of work to win the top place."
First-year coach Connie Woodford welcomes back the top two doubles team of Tes Ketterman and Emma Woodford along with Laney Runde and Sarah Duvall. All four are seniors.
Also back with varsity experience are seniors Megan Molenhouse and Ellie Wronski. Sophomore Liz Kettermwn and Peyton Saltijeral will be in the mix.
"We want to compete for the GCAC (Girls Catholic Athletic Conference) title," said coach Connie Woodford.
The Storm hope to finish better than fifth in the Upstate Eight.
The returners for 17th-year coach Melissa Tuftedal are senior Avery Walters and junior Sophia Brito.
Newcomers include senior Yasmin Taylor, junior Nicole Sawczyn and freshman Isabella Flores.
"We are always excited to play rival Bartlett," said Tuftedal. "We lost a lot of seniors, We have a lot of newcomers to varsity. We look forward to an exciting season."
ST. CHARLES EAST
Matthew Bulman, in his 16th season as Saints coach, enjoyed a solid season in 2022. Bulman, 253-108 in his career in dual meets, is seeking bigger and better results this season.
The Saints were 12-8 overall and 4-3 in the rugged DuKane Conference in 2022. East placed fifth in the conference, third at the sectionals and 31st at the Class 2A state meet.
Bulman must replace state qualifier Katie Lauger, who is playing collegiately at Division I Western Illinois.
The Saints return 11 players with varsity experience including three state qualifiers - senior Sofia Radovic, junior Avary Sitarz and sophomore Kelsey Jacobs.
Others back for St. Charles East are seniors Ana Avila, Sadie Seebeck, Maya Risberg and Tamara Moreno, juniors Sawyer Kannaka, Camilla Lopez-Caltayd and Haley Griffin, and sophomore Alexsa Radovic, along with sophomore newcomer Layla Sutaria.
"The DuKane Conference is a dogfight," said Bulman. "Both Wheatons and St. Charles North might have the best 1-2 punch in the conference. We have almost our entire lineup back. We will be competitive if we stay healthy. We could make a run at the conference title. It will be a very evenly match. One through eight could be separated by less than four points."
ST. CHARLES NORTH
The North Stars, under the guidance of 15th-year coach Sean Masoncup, return two-time state qualifier Alli Gizewicz and honorable mention all-stater Shannon Lu.
Other returners include senior Susanna Kemp, juniors Maddie Zubal, Eva Weyman and Lauren Ford, and sophomore Reese Thomas with freshman Danielle Dejanovich joining the group.
The North Stars, third in the DuKane Conference, were second in the St. Charles North sectional.
"We are in a very tough conference top to bottom," said Masoncup. "The North Stars will compete hard night in and night out. We are very strong at the top of the lineup. We need to work hard every day and night."
Masoncup looks at Barrington, Hinsdale Central and New Trier as top teams in the state.
The Spartans tied with Payton and Glenbard South for 19th place at the Class 1A state meet in 2022. St. Francis was second in the sectionals and second in Metro Suburban, in its last season.
Coach Tom Castronovo faces a stiff challenge in 2023. St. Francis moves from the Metro Suburban Conference to the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC) where Fenwick is the defending 1A state champion. Loyola and St. Ignatius are also powerhouses in the GCAC.
"We are the smallest school and there are a lot of schools with winning traditions," said Castronovo. "We hope to contend."
Sophomore state qualifier Ashley Rajcevich returns for the Spartans.
Ashley's twin sister Cameron was plagued by injuries as a freshman in 2022. Castronova hopes she is back to 100% for the 2023 season.
Others back for St. Francis are senior Lauren Cleveland and junior Elizabeth Szalek.
Newcomers include senior Ella Wozniak and juniors Kendall Shields, Kenley Eltoft and Sasha Zellinger.
"The girls are focused and I have total confidence in them," said Castronovo. "We have a lot of matches against Class 2A schools. We hope to be competitive and surprise people. We remain optimistic. We are a work in progress. It will take time."
The Trojans, under veteran coach Keith Mills, placed sixth in Class 1A last season.
Back are senior Crystina Lee, who was sixth in the state in singles, and junior Jane Carter who took 24th in the state.
Experience will come from senior Joanna Clohessy, and juniors Reagan Mowry, Sami Drye, Alexa Auriemme and Maddie Byrd.
Newcomers include senior Anna Fisher, and juniors Fenna Tameling and Evelina Kacillus.
"We return our top two players but we lost several players over the last few years," said Mills. "We still have high expectations. We want to win the sectional and finish in the top five in the state."
Mills looks at Benet Academy as the top team in Class 1A followed by Chicago University High.
Veteran coach Phil Galow, in his 43rd-year, has carved out an impressive 467-314-9 record.
Back for the Warriors are state qualifiers senior Anika Srinivasani and junior Sofia Parranto.
Others with varsity experience are seniors Isha Srinivasani, Richa Kapoor, Avery Denius, Sriya Kotaa and Anna Bucenauer, and junior Deetya Datla. Freshmen Chloe Cochran and Sara Kaira are others to watch.
"The DuPage Valley is always a tough conference," said Galow. "You look at the sectional and state and the competitors from the conference do well. We have good returning juniors and seniors along with two new freshman. We are a much deeper team. This is a competitive group. It should be a fun season. My job is to blend these athletes together."
With eight returners, Blackhawks coach Bruce Fraser is hoping his troops will improve on a third-place finish in the Southwest Prairie Conference and a sixth-place effort in the Class 2A sectional.
Fraser welcomes back seniors Kelsey Danner, Mia Malczyk, Grace Brown, Genny Busch and Hadleigh Bedwell along with juniors Avery Michels and Alyssa Fowler.
Newcomers are seniors Lindsey Klock and Amanda Simpson and juniors Amanda Ramirez Garcia, Brie Guthrie and Samantha Garza.
"There are very solid No. 1 players in the conference," said Fraser. "We want to finish in the top half of the conference."
The Warriors, in their first season in the Chicagoland Christian Conference, must replace seniors Jillian Paulson and Audrey Liffin.
Coach Joel Visker looks at his Warriors and Timothy Christian as the teams to beat in the new conference. Marian Central and Chicago Christian are also top teams in the conference.
Top players for the Warriors are seniors Caroline Blaum and Sophie Shelton and junior Analeigh Hoogerheide.
"We want to win the first conference title in the new conference," said Visker. "We want to send players to the state tournament."
Falcons coach Eric Laird has carved out a 109-91 slate in 11 seasons.
Laird's troops were third in the DuKane Conference (5-2), second at the Class 2A Lake Park sectional and 34th in the state a year ago.
North returns state qualifiers senior Hannah Swanson and juniors Kaylee Phillips and Stella Tarusha.
Others with varsity experience are juniors Saede Berner and Grace Ekstrand along with sophomore Julia Russell.
Newcomers include seniors Hunter Tomkins, Kate Feeney and Eileen Fitch along with juniors Rose, Hama Rasheed, Ellie Postma and Eliza McGraw, and freshmen Jelena Krstic and Yuliia Grigorchuk.
"Last year Batavia, Wheaton Warrenville South and us were in the top three spots," said Laird. "Every match in the DKC is so competitive. There is great sportsmanship in the conference. I am looking forward to where we stand in the conference, We want to contend in the DKC, finish in the top three in whatever sectional we end up, and qualify all four positions for state."
The Warriors, third in the West Suburban Conference, must replace graduated captain Molly Brennan.
Back for Willowbrook are No. 1 doubles team seniors Jasmine Langston and Laurent Carson and junior No. 1 singles Ella Lopez.
Newcomers include sophomores Shannon Freer, Hannah Gawat and Kiki Smalling.
"We have shown growth and maturity," said coach Ed DeLaCruz. "We have depth with any team. Team chemistry is the No. 1 thing. We want to take the next steps by qualifying players to the state meet."
With Courtney Bison heading to Hinsdale South, longtime assistant Kara Dollaske takes over. Dollaske inherits a plethora of talent - starting with junior Lizzy Isyanov who was sixth in Class 2A singles last year.
Senior Lindsey White and junior Josie Coan are state qualifiers returning.
York, 23-2 in dual meets, second in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, sectional champs and sixth in the state with 17 points in 2022, also has varsity experience back from seniors Claire Hewit, Bella Bjerken and Delaney Butterley along with junior Claudia Clark.
Newcomers to watch include seniors Juliette Brunke, Lauren Capuno, Alexandria Rublaitis and Audrey Jeffrey, junior Yelzaveta Boychuk, sophomore Olivia Allen and freshmen Caroline Coan and Rosalyn Rublaitis.
"The West Suburban Silver is loaded," said Dollaske. "Hinsdale Central has won two state championships since COVID. Lyons Township and Oak Park-River Forest have finished strong. We have 80 players in the program and three state qualifiers back. We are a deep team. We have strengthened our nonconference schedule with New Trier and Stevenson."
The York coach rates the top teams in the state as Hinsdale Central, New Trier, Stevenson, Deerfield, Lake Forest and his Dukes.