Boys tennis: Wheaton North rolling heading heading into postseason
The Wheaton North boys tennis team entered the season with high expectations.
With 9 of their 11 starters back, the Falcons were primed to be among the top teams in DuPage County.
Through the first 10 days of May, the Falcons have lived up to their goals this season by winning 16 of their 17 matches this season, including defeating St. Charles East in DuKane Conference play on Monday. The Falcons are currently in first place in the conference, four points ahead of Wheaton Warrenville South. The conference tourney is scheduled for this weekend.
"We started the season with three goals: winning the DuKane Conference, qualifying three, if not four positions, for the state tournament and winning a sectional title, and then having those state qualifiers going deep in the state tournament with those qualifiers," Wheaton North coach Eric Laird said. "With so many returnees, we have great depth and experience. This weekend, we're hoping to not only maintain, but build on our lead to finish the regular season in dominant fashion."
At the top of the list among Laird's talented returnees is singles player Henry Ros. He's won 16 of his 20 matches this season, and remains undefeated in conference play.
"Henry is a smart, all-court grinder with an amazing work ethic and determination," Laird said. "We truly have two doubles teams, Niku Cowart and Vaughn Smith, at No. 1 doubles. They're 19-3 overall, undefeated in conference and a smart, active doubles team with great positioning and strategy. Then, we have Devon Jones and Will Parrilli, at No. 2 doubles. They're 16-4 overall, and undefeated in conference. They've played together last year and have amazing court coverage and communication. Our doubles have been a strength for us all year."
The Falcons gained a big momentum push last weekend by winning the York quad. Ros finished with two wins in three matches, and Dylan Wallace and Bharath Sudharsan also had solid showings.
"I had to shift my lineup and put my normal No. 2 singles player, Dylan Wallace, at No. 2 doubles and shift my No. 3 singles player, Bharath Sudharsan, up to No. 2 singles," Laird said. "They both did an awesome job contributing at their new spots on that day.
"This has been a fabulous season so far with an amazing group of young men. They're great students, hard working, encouraging, respectful and competitive with great energy and enthusiasm."
Willowbrook tennis coach Ed Delacruz is ready for some normalcy this spring. After numerous matches were rained out combined with the heavy wind, mostly sunless afternoons and spate of cold weather, Delacruz said his program is aiming to finish the season on a positive note.
"It's been one of the craziest spring tennis seasons that I can remember in my 13 years coaching boys tennis," he said. "This year we've had the opening of our new eight courts that turned out so nice. We now have 16 courts on campus, which is huge."
The Warriors (6-6, 4-2 West Suburban Gold), closed out conference play with a 5-2 loss to Hinsdale South on Monday to finish in third place. The conference tourney is slated to be hosted by first-place Downers Grove South this weekend. The Warriors, led by senior captains Devin Cullerton (No. 1 doubles), Tawfic Elghor (No. 2 singles) and Jose Alcantara (No. 1 doubles), claimed the District 88 eight-team tournament title on April 23. Cullerton and Alcantara won the title at No. 1 doubles.
"I have five returning all-conference players, and I will be hoping for the same or higher results this weekend at the conference tournament," Delacruz said. "My junior combo team at No. 2 doubles, Connor Nollan and Quinten Terselic, have the most wins this season including tournaments with 13 wins."
Naperville Central update:
Naperville Central will be making the trek to Waubonsie Valley three times this week. The Redhawks close out the DuPage Valley Conference season at Waubonsie Valley on Wednesday and play in the conference tournament at WVHS this weekend.
Naperville Central coach Chris Harrison said it's a three-team race for the conference title.
"This is most wide open year in our conference in a long time," Harrison said. "It's between us, Neuqua Valley and Naperville North. Naperville North has a slight lead now, by a couple of points, but the conference tournament is weighted, so it can swing it either way."
Harrison said his top three singles players, Blake Roegner, Vincent Yin and Daniel Wu, have to play well for his team to move up the conference ladder.
"My singles is more loaded than doubles, so the ticket to win is at No. 1, 2 and 3 singles," Harrison said. "We'll then try to get in the top three in all the doubles spots. Blake has lost two matches all season and Vincent is undefeated in conference. Daniel has only lost once in conference."