Girls tennis: Stevenson looking for a long postseason run
The Stevenson girls tennis team is riding high into its own Class 2A Stevenson sectional Friday and Saturday in Lincolnshire.
The Patriots are fresh off winning the North Suburban Conference title thanks to championship performances from Anna Trush (No. 3 singles), along with the doubles teams of Kate Herlihy-Thea Surya (No. 2 doubles), Ashley Adkisson/Sophia Shlyakhta (No. 3 doubles) and Sophia Lagen-Sabrina Xue (No. 4 doubles).
The No. 1 doubles team of Sonia Mehta-Ainika Hou and singles players Sarah Wang (No. 1) and Abby Ma (No. 2) all took second.
Wang comes into the sectional with an 18-1 record. That one loss was to Lake Forest's Autumn Rabjohns, who Wang beat earlier in the season. Ma is 16-2 with both losses to Libertyville's Lena Dogadalski, who Ma beat several weeks back.
"All four positions have proven to be strong against the top teams and players in the state," Stevenson coach Jose Morales said. "They all have a great chance at sectionals and state."
The rest of the Stevenson fields includes Grayslake North, Warren, Libertyville, Mundelein and Vernon Hills, along with Lake Forest, Waukegan and Zion-Benton.
Grayslake North was fourth in the Northern Lake County Conference tournament where Isabella Moran won the No. 2 singles title and Elyse Gawerecki was second at No. 3 singles.
Moran, who has not lost a match this season, will be joined at Stevenson by No. 1 singles player Meg George.
"I think Meg and Bella have a shot to advance," Knights coach Ashley Kopecky said. "Both players have been improving and competing at the highest level. Because of our 2A status, we will be competing in one of the toughest sectionals in the state, however I think they have the potential to advance if they bring everything they have."
Vernon Hills moved up to Class 2A for the postseason. The Cougars took third in the recent Central Suburban North tournament. The No. 1 doubles team of Jaidyn Rush and Anika Deshpande, both juniors, took third. "We moved up to 2A this year at the Stevenson sectional where competition with be tough," Vernon Hills coach Doug Gerber said.
Also in the Class 2A side, Lake Zurich will compete in the Fremd sectional in Palatine, while Round Lake and Grant head over to Algonquin for the Jacobs sectional.
Grant enjoyed its best NLCC finish last weekend, taking second in the loop. Bulldogs coach Shea Wintersteen is pairing Gianna Vavalle and Eli Rasborschek together in Algonquin. Vavalle and her sister, Angie, took third in the conference at No. 1 doubles, while Rasborschek was third at No. 1 singles. Vavalle and Rasborschek finished fourth together at the Jacobs 16-team tournament and at the Lakes 14-team tournament. "They are currently playing some of their best tennis of the season and have a good chance at making it to state," Wintersteen said.
Antioch will host a Class 1A sectional that also includes Grayslake Central, Lakes and Wauconda.
Grayslake Central won the Northern Lake County Conference regular-season and tournament titles, going undefeated at 7-0 in NLCC play and 18-2 overall in duals. Karishma Bhalla (No. 1 singles), Jenna Groark (No. 3 singles) and the doubles teams of Sasha Baer/Sravya Yellaprayda (No. 2 doubles), Kelsey Halvorsen-Ashna Desai (No. 3 doubles) and Madison Hoffmann/Kate Wondrasek (No. 4 doubles) all won conference titles, while Sophia Schleg (No. 2 singles) and the No. 1 doubles team of Grace Caldwell and Aviva Krill took second.
The host Sequoits were second in the regular season in NLCC play and third at the conference tournament where Natalie Labicki was second at No. 1 singles. She's 22-6 -- one of those losses coming to Grayslake Central's Bhalla. Several coaches in this sectional point to a competitive singles tournament.
"Natalie is our top contender to qualify for state," Antioch coach Jamie D'Andrea said. "She's already done it her sophomore and junior years at doubles, so this year we're looking for her to make a run at singles. She is playing her best tennis right now, which means she's peaking at exactly the right time. Our sectional has a strong singles field and she knows she is going to have to be on top of her game to make it through, and I have complete faith that she's ready to do so. She has a great mental attitude about it and her confidence has grown with each match she's played lately."
Lakes finished fifth in the NLCC with Sienna Steinke (No. 2 singles) finishing third and the third doubles team of Sophia Stolarick and Danica Cruz finishing second. Keep an eye on Siera Tatarynowicz in the singles draw at Antioch.
"Siera has battled all season and she is playing her best tennis right now," Lakes coach Bryan Plinske said. "If her first serve is on, she is consistent enough to let others make a mistake. The pressure of sectionals can be pretty intense. It doesn't take much to throw someone off her game and Siera has the weapons to do just that. She's also hungry for it."
Wauconda's No. 1 doubles team of Megan Hackman and Sophia Esquivel won the conference title. This duo took 12th in the state as sophomores and did not get a state trip last year during the pandemic, but won the sectional title.
"I am projecting they will also win sectionals this year and advance to state," Bulldogs coach Dana Differding said.
Carmel will head to the Class 1A St. Francis sectional in Wheaton. The Corsairs were fifth in the conference this season.
Coach Gina Borkowski said the doubles teams of Colleen Ryan and Mary Titterton (No. 1) and the No. 2 doubles team of Lauren Jenkins and Anna Kegel are looking strong. Jenkins and Kegel would have qualified for state had there been a tournament last year. No. 1 singles player Alex Monroe also would have been a state qualifier last year.
"Colleen and Mary are strong technically and mentally. They are competitors through and through, and play aggressive tennis," Borkowski said. "Lauren and Anna have been playing together for two years. Both are multiple-sport athletes, are incredibly competitive and smart players on the court. Alex has been playing in our singles rotation for three years on varsity. She's a very smart player who reads the court well. She has a variety of shots and tactics that catch opponents by surprise."
The top four singles finishers and the top four doubles teams advance to next week's state tournament hosted by Buffalo Grove.