Girl Tennis: Team capsules for Naperville area teams
August 29, 2012 3:46PM
Sophomore Cass Goldner (left) and junior Cindy Liu form a powerful doubles pairing for Naperville Central. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 6, 2012 8:44PM
Coach: Bob Comerford
Top players: Seniors — Mary Beth King, Daniella Reyes, Olivia Watson; Juniors — Leah Tzakis, Maggie Wilhelm; Freshman — Coco Tzakis.
Outlook: The successful four-year stretch led by singles Cassie Kovach and doubles Kim Simmons and Madeline Carney has come to an end, but the Redwings still have plenty of talent. King and Reyes made it to the top 16 at state and the Tzakis sisters are looking to qualify at singles. Doubles Watson and Wilhelm had to wait for their time to crack the sectional lineup, and they don’t plan to let it go to waste. “They’re kind of under the radar now,” said Comerford. “But they’re definitely a duo to watch.” With a set sectional lineup, Comerford can concentrate on preparing the girls for sectionals instead of searching for the best combos. “We’ve got good depth behind these girls,” said Comerford. “We’re probably not going to blow through other teams as we’ve done in recent years. But we’ll be good.”
Coach: Karly Olson
Top players: Seniors — Kelsey Chin, Ana Woods, Nandita Baloo, Madison Madrid, Maddie Collins; Juniors — Emily Dixon, Delaney Earley, Nikki Beesetti, Deja Hartsfield, Tyler Proszowski, Caitlyn Hammerly
Outlook: Two-time state qualifier Chin suffered a knee injury last spring and she’s almost back to her full fitness, which puts her among the top players in the state. “She’s a great all-court player who gets to the net. She hits with power and she’s improved her serve,” said Olson. The Mustangs’ great depth and balance should make them a factor in the Upstate Eight. Woods is a good second singles who can move to one when needed and Beesetti was second in conference at third-singles and can handle the second spot. The doubles teams are all about even but either Baloo and Dixon or athletic newcomers Proszowski and Hammerly will compete for the top spot. “I’m really excited about this team’s potential,” said Olson. “Everyone has improved and we could send Kelsey and one or two doubles teams to state.”
Coach: Don Bonet
Top players: Senior — Maria Mihailescu; Juniors — Cindy Liu, Sara Furukawa, Meaghan Bedigian; Sophomore — Cass Goldner; Freshman — Tiffany Chen.
Outlook: The Redhawks finished third in the DVC last year, but could be better with a great returning group and freshman Chen, a future star who will move right in to play first singles. Liu and Goldner, who form a powerful doubles team, made it to the round of 32 at state. “They were solid last year,” said Bonet. “But they should be much better this time because they worked together a lot during the offseason.” There’s still some experimenting before the doubles lineup is set behind them. Chen’s arrival gives the coach more options throughout the lineup. Bedigian and Mihailescu, both savvy singles players, could wind up as doubles partners, and Furukawa is an asset at second-singles. “We have a powerful six-person nucleus,” said Bonet, “But we need other people to step up in order to challenge Naperville North for the DVC title.”
Coach: Heather Henricksen
Top players: Seniors — Kamile Stadalninkaite, Karen Liu, Tiffany Oken, Kayla Maxson, Ellen Heidenreich; Junior — Julia Li; Sophomores — Abbie Boswell, Jessica Hu
Outlook: The conference champs return most of the starting lineup from last year. Doubles partners Stadalninkaite and Boswell, who went to top 16 at state, are much better after a year together. They’ll play singles in conference. Oken and Maxson, who won conference at first-doubles were 25-4 overall and they’ve never lost in the DVC as a team. Liu and Li won the conference title at second doubles. Heidenreich and Hu were also conference champs. The Huskies have a ton of experience, great depth and the kind of versatility that makes them formidable in the DVC, and at weekend tournaments. “We’re solid from top to bottom,” Henricksen said. “But in conference, Central and Wheaton South will both challenge us. We don’t have a superstar like Keisha Clousing, so we count on everyone to contribute points.”
Coach: Trudy Bennorth
Top players: Seniors — Christine Zhang, Leah Keating, Alicia Skwarek; Junior — Riti Vohra; Sophomores — Anusha Pai, Taylor Hershey, Akshita Pillal; Freshman — Amy McNeel
Outlook: The Wildcats squad was good across the board last year as they won the Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division title, but for the first time in many years, they didn’t have a state qualifier. Bennorth hopes that will change now that her young team is a year older. Among the possibilities are Pai, who moves up to first singles after winning conference at the number two spot last year. “She’s got awesome groundstrokes and a great head on her shoulders,” said Bennorth. The first two doubles teams should be taken from the quintet of Vohra, Zhang, Hersh and veterans Keating and Skwarek. “Our singles lineup is all freshmen and sophs,” said Bennorth. “We have better depth this year and we’re hoping to compete for conference. Now we have to get someone to state.”
Coach: Phil Galow
Key players: Seniors — Katie Drone, Anna Reimers; Juniors — Amanda Glavin, Gennifer Taylor, Saaya Nath; Sophomore — Riya Sanjay; Freshmen — Serena Upadhyay, Archana Upadhyay.
Outlook: Last year’s 8-12 record marked a dip in the fortunes of a team that looked very promising two years ago. “Many of them read their press clippings and didn’t put in the work they needed in the offseason,” said Galow. That’s all different now this season with a more mature, more dedicated group led by Drone, who always worked hard and continues to set an example for her teammates. “Katie has gotten faster, she can move the ball around and she can stay in a match much longer,” said Galow. Juniors Glavin, Taylor and Nath join senior Reimers in the mix for the first two doubles spots, making those positions a team strength. “This team was humbled last year,” said Galow. “I like our mix of talent and the enthusiasm is there. We could be pretty good, but it’s really up to the girls and how far they want to go.”
— Compiled by Neil Shalin