Sheldon-Pasielak win Hersey's first state tennis doubles championship
A huge gallery drenched in orange T-shirts with "Champions Play Here" emblazoned on the back, watched Saturday as the Hersey doubles team of Mitch Sheldon and Kacper Pasielak would thrill the fans with a pair of three-set thrillers in defeating Jai Vallurupalli and Anthony Lipari of Hinsdale Central to win the Huskies' first state tennis doubles title in program history.
The Sheldon-Pasielak team would complete a remarkable year at 29-0, including nearly five hours of tennis at the Tom Pitchford Tennis Complex in Arlington Heights.
"Mitch and Kacper have come a long way in a year (to) become a dominant doubles team (who) earned the No. 1 seed and played like the No. 1 all throughout -- taking on some adversity along the way to win a very deserving state title," said an emotional Andy Walton, Hersey's head coach whose club would finish fifth overall (21 points). State champ Hinsdale Central finished with 49 points, New Trier second at 29 points and Barrington was third with 26. Fremd was fourth with 24 points, Highland Park sixth with 19, while Stevenson was seventh with 13 points. Jacobs, Naperville Central and Glenbrook North all had 12.
"This is a proud day for MSL tennis, and my hat's off to Mitch and Kacper, who are a great doubles team, and great champions," Barrington coach John Roncone said.
"After watching my brother (Max) finish second twice, Kacper and I have talked about having our chance to do so -- and today, we got there, and played the best we could in both matches to win a state title," Shelton said.
The Huskies duo were cool and composed during a semifinal 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over Alex Kotarski and James Theriault of Hinsdale Central. The broke open the third set with an array of power serves from the lefty Sheldon, and exquisite play around the net from Pasielak.
"There was a lot of talk coming from their side of the net, but I think it fired (up) our fans for sure, and it kind of helped inspire us to win to advance," Pasielak said.
Mid-Suburban League champion Barrington earned its best team finish since its third place collected in 2000, thanks in part to a superb all-around effort from Pranav Gadiraju and Deven Carse at singles, along with its doubles team of Gabe Mills and Ethan Paik.
Gadiraju (27-6) was sixth overall, Carse (26-4) fourth, and Mills-Paik (28-5) just missing a medal after their loss in the consolation semifinal.
"Pranav went out in style. He played great tennis all three days, beating great players Thomas Nelson (Jacobs) and Matthew Plunkett (New Trier), while Deven battle all throughout until leg cramps did him in during his third-place match with Andrew Spurck from Fremd," Roncone said.
Spurck (27-2) who came in as the No. 2 seed, was stopped cold in his semifinal with eventual state champion Mujtaba Ali-Khan of Hinsdale Central prevailing 6-2, 6-2.
"Andrew beat (Ali-Khan) at the Pitchford, but today (maybe) because a case of nerves, or not, he made a few mistakes along the way that he normally does not do, and just was not able to recover -- with plenty of credit to Ali-Khan for that," Fremd coach Johnny Kent said.
"Other than that match, he played great all-around tennis, and he will be back, and better than ever next spring."
In the 1A tournament, Carmel Catholic would make history, while Doug Gerber's Vernon Hills team earned a second straight fourth-place finish.
The Cougars tallied 16 points, 14 coming from its doubles teams who each fell short in their respective bids to nab a state medal.
Aditya Sabharwal-Andrew Tikhonor lost in three sets to Springfield, while Anthony Pomeranets-Daniel Shchebalev dropped a straight set contest to Carmel's Miles Whelan and Adrian Larrea, who later became the first in Corsairs program history to bring home a medal.
"Rohit Dashapautra and freshmen Aarush Vora each injured their ankles which slowed both down, and Aditya suffered leg cramps in the match with Springfield," Gerber said. "All in all I am very proud of all the players for their play this weekend."
The Whelan-Larrea (22-7) team used a three-set victory in its consolation quarterfinal match, and straight-set win over Vernon Hills' Pomeranets-Shchebalev to ensure the Corsairs' sixth-place finish.
"I cannot tell you how proud I am of these guys," said Corsairs coach Gina Borkowski.
"They battled and fought, and won some big points to keep going today, so they are very deserving of their state medal."
"I know for a fact neither one of us expected to go this far in the tournament, but it is pretty amazing," admitted Whelan, who will play at Carthage College next fall.