Underclassmen will anchor NCC women’s tennis
By Rob wollenzien For Sun-Times Media March 17, 2011 4:44PM
March 25-26 — Hack Kellner Invitational, Springfield, TBA
April 1 — Wheaton College Wheaton, 6 p.m.
April 3 — Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind. noon
April 7 — Aurora University, Naperville, 11 a.m.
April 21 — Benedictine University, Naperville, 3 p.m.
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Opportunity is knocking for a talented class of freshmen on the NCC women’s tennis team.
This spring season, the Cardinals will be without No. 1 singles player Cory Schillerstrom and No. 2 singles competitor Alicia DeGrado. With fall being the official season, the two decided to shift their focus to other causes.
“I guess it’s a blessing in disguise that we’re missing our top two players, who are upperclassmen,” coach Don Moravec says. “We always like having them out there but this will give some of our younger girls a chance to show what they can do.”
Schillerstrom, a junior and Naperville Central graduate, has earned All-CCIW Second Team honors the past three fall seasons. She’ll skip the spring schedule to focus on an important class.
DeGrado, a senior from Glenbard North, will run track.
In their places, six freshmen will vie for varsity spots on a team that finished 10-3 overall and 3-3 in CCIW dual meets. The Cardinals placed fifth out of seven teams at the CCIW Championships Oct. 8-9.
Freshmen Katie Blum, Madeline Urban, Polly Dalton, Allison Ignarski, Maggie Youel and Stephanie Brunetti form the nucleus of a Cardinals’ youth movement. Brunetti went 11-3 in singles play last fall, competing mainly at the No. 6 spot, and also posted a 10-3 mark while seeing most of her doubles time at No. 3.
Ignarski took second at the CCIW Championships at No. 6 singles, filling in for Brunetti.
As the third freshman in that group to see significant varsity action in the fall, Youel went 10-10 in singles play and 11-7 in doubles, mostly in the No. 2 slot in the latter.
She will likely play No. 2 singles.
Blum (Wheaton North) and Urban (West Chicago) both are local products.
Sophomore Katie Hatch also will compete for a singles position in the lineup and senior Abigail Conover will anchor the spring team at both No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles. Conover’s doubles partner has yet to be determined.
Last fall, Conover played exclusively at No. 3 singles and finished 21-5. She also posted a 10-10 No. 1 doubles mark, playing alongside Schillerstrom. She also earned CCIW Player of the Week recognition Sept. 22. Conover attended College of DuPage prior to fall 2009 and is a graduate of Naperville North.
She will be one of the few mainstays on a team chock-full of underclassmen and aspiring varsity contributors.
“We’re not sure just yet where everyone will play,” Moravec says. “This past week (March 7-11) was the first week of actual practice and we haven’t had any challenges yet.”
Moravec adds that he won’t hesitate to experiment with various lineup combinations, depending on the strength of the opponent and other factors.
The Cardinals begin their spring season March 25-26 at the Hack Kellner Invitational in Springfield, with four more dates in April.