Girls tennis: Timothy Christian, Elgin Academy making noise at 1A state tournament
With North Shore Country Day and Chicago U-High taking control of the big trophy in the first four years of Class 1A state tennis, it would be Timothy Christian and Elgin Academy who would make their mark on the tennis scene in sensational fashion a year ago.
Keith Mills' club from Timothy Christian would earn the first state trophy in program history with a third-place finish, while Elgin Academy tied with five others for seventh place overall, thus claiming its best in program history as well.
This year, the doubles team of Addison and Noelle Lanton from Elgin Academy were anointed the top seed, and would show why they deserved the lofty spot with three dominating performances to advance into Friday's 9 a.m. quarterfinals in Arlington Heights at Hersey High School against Chicago Payton.
"The girls have worked so hard, especially during the offseason, and after playing (doubles) together the entire season, they have developed a tremendous chemistry, and a terrific relationship on the court which has translated into a successful season thus far," said coach Sterling Perez of his top team which is now a dazzling 27-0 overall.
"What impressed me so much today is how they reacted to a big crowd from (Rock Island) Alleman. They had so many more fans than we had, which included myself, my assistant, and their grandmother, who taught them how to play the sport. They remained cool, calm, and composed as they went through three opponents, and just dropping one game along the way."
The Lanton team was sectional champs last weekend after conceding not a single set in advance of this weekend.
Timothy Christian will send its entire team into action all across all four flights as it looks to chase down Chicago Latin and Fenwick, both with 20 points, plus Triad, which stands two points clear of the Trojans.
"I could have told you last year that Fenwick would be the team to beat with everyone coming back, and the addition of a real strong player in Brooklyn Siegel, but we'll give it everything we have during the next two days," opined Mills.
His No. 1, Crystina Lee, will face the aforementioned Siegel Friday morning in her quarterfinal after three consecutive straight set victories.
"Crystina has played up to her potential this season, and her game has improved at every level this season," continued Mills of Lee, who advanced into the consolation semis a year ago.
Jane Carter, a 5-8 seed just as Lee, won four here last fall. She will look to add another win or two this season beginning with her fourth round consolation match Friday.
Clarissa Chen and Angie Tornabene were 3-1 on the day.
"We're proud of the fact that we are one of the smallest of all 1A schools (enrollment of 400), but are still able to hold our own against the big guys. We hope to continue doing so tomorrow," said Mills.
Reigning 2A state champion Hinsdale Central is chasing leader New Trier (20-18) while York, Neuqua Valley and Glenbard West remain in the top 10 heading into day No. 2
The Red Devils have all of their teams alive, including 3-4 seed Sophia Kim, and her teammates at doubles, Bridget Novatney and Nicole Hu, also a 3-4 seed.
Lizzie Isyanov, a 5-8 seed, was perfect in three, and will now face top-seed Sarah Wang from Stevenson in the quarters, with 9-16 Keira Polach and Lindsey White looking to came back through the back-draw.
Neuqua Valley went 9-6 on the day.
Sectional champion Naperville North's Brooke Coffman and Gabby Lee showed why they earned their 5-8 seed with a trio of straight-set victories. The Huskies duo will face 9-16 Glenbrook South (Sophia Denizov and Alexandra Popa) in their quarterfinal at tourney host Buffalo Grove.
Glenbard West star Mia Kernagis dropped just three games on the day, and now the 5-8 seed will face Sophia Kim of Hinsdale Central.
The area will have several still alive in the back-draw, hoping to not only earn valuable points for their respective clubs, but also continue on the road to a potential spot in the final day of action.
Sectional champion Sofia Olaru (Naperville Central) and Hinsdale South sophomore Chloe Goins, both 9-16 seeds, remain alive in the back-draw. So are doubles teams Kate Southworth-
Emily Whitmer (Downers Grove North), Kate Lauger-Avary Sitarz (St. Charles East), Kaley McCabe-Lauren Morton (Wheaton Warrenville South) and singles players Gabby David (Downers Grove South) and Brooke Ittersagen (WW South).
The Benet Academy duo of Shane Delaney and Clare Lopatka (21-4) who helped their club win a sixth straight ESCC title, won their first two before falling in straight sets to top-seed Isabelle Chong and Lainey Oneil from Lake Forest.
"Shane and Clare really like each other. They get along so well on and off the court, and it shows in how they play the game of tennis," said coach Michael Hand.
Next up for Delaney and Lopatka is the Glenbard West team of Norah Chirila and Audrey Creswell Friday morning at Wheeling.
All consolation matches will begin at 8 a.m. at various venues around host Buffalo Grove, with quarterfinals set for a 9 a.m. start.
For all of the updated scores and schedules, go to ihsa.org/Sports-Activities/Girls-Tennis.