Glenbrook South sending full complement to state
Glenbrook South senior Mary Friedman competes in the doubles match with teammate Allie Sonneborn (not pictured) against Glenbrook North seniors Miriam Mikhelson and Lisa Silshtut during the semifinal sectional match at Niles West on Saturday. | Michael Ja
Updated: October 21, 2012 3:56PM
The Glenbrook South girls tennis team will bring both singles players and both doubles teams to the IHSA state meet, which begins today at several Mid-Suburban League schools.
While outstanding junior Caroline Ryba, sophomore Annie Emme and the No. 1 doubles team of sophomores Martina Dagoytchev and Jessica Chepurda were all expected to reach state, the road appeared a bit tougher for the doubles team of seniors Mary Friedman and Allie Sonneborn.
Unseeded at last weekend’s Niles West sectional, the pair needed to pull off an upset if they were going to qualify for state – and that’s just what happened.
Friedman and Sonneborn opened sectional play with a 7-5, 6-2 win over No. 4 seed Nicole Kitsuse and Meghan Salgia from Maine South. Friedman and Sonneborn then qualified for state, a top-four finish guaranteed a spot, by defeating Niles West’s Alexa Bits and Kristine Park 6-3, 6-4.
“It was an exciting win for them. I’m thrilled,” Glenbrook South coach Katie Niccoloti said about the pair, who competed at state on separate doubles teams last year. “They are our captains and have contributed so much to the program. I’m excited they get to continue on and get another chance to compete at state.”
A flair up of Sonneborn’s persistent elbow tendinitis led to the pair retiring in a semifinal match against Glenbrook North’s Miriam Mikhelson and Lisa Silshutut. The injury also was behind Niccoloti’s decision to have Friedman and Sonneborn default ahead of the third-place match against teammates Dragoytchev and Chepurda.
Thanks to both singles and doubles teams advancing, Glenbrook South was able to pull out a narrow sectional title, scoring 23 points to Glenbrook North’s 21.
Ryba enters this week with a 25-0 record, and appears to be in the mix for a state title. Other contenders for the top spot are: Keisha Clousing (Wheaton Warrenville South), Maddie Lipp (Lake Forest), Alex Chatt (Lyons) and Marika Cusick (Hinsdale Central).
“Of course, I think I can win,” Ryba said. “But a lot of other girls think they can too. I have the big goal to win, but if I don’t take it one match at a time, I won’t be focused enough and it won’t work out. I want to go further than I did last year (top 16). After that, hopefully I’ll just continue playing well.”
Sak remains devoted to teammates
Seniors Anna Zelechonok and Katrine Zhadovich captured the sectional title, while Mikhelson and Silshutut, both seniors, finished second. Also advancing was freshman Maddie Kahn, who came in third in singles.
However, the most uplifting story of the weekend may have been that of Spartans senior Elizabeth Sak, who missed out on state after being edged out in three sets by Maine South freshman Leigh Friedman. But instead of sulking, Sak stood out in the rain cheering on her teammates during Saturday morning’s sectional session. She also vowed to practice with her team in the days leading up to state.
“Usually when you’re done (for the season), you’re done,” Glenbrook North coach Peggy Holecek said. “But Elizabeth asked me if I would like her to come back and help (Kahn) get ready for state. I almost cried. She’s just a really great kid.”
Friedman ‘tournament tough’
The Hawks (six points) finished third and Leigh Friedman was their only player to advance.
Maine South coach Joann Bondi said the state meet can be overwhelming for a young player, but she believes Leigh Friedman will make the most out of the experience.
“She should just go in and relax and have a good time. But that’s easy for me to say because I’m not playing,” Bondi said. “I’ve had freshmen who have gone in and struggled. But (Leigh Friedman) is tournament tough, very mature and very bright. I think she will find this to be quite a learning experience.”
Leigh Freidman said: “I just want to go and do my best and play every match like it’s my last.”
Bits, Park finish 22-7
The Wolves (four points, tied for fourth) did not have any state qualifiers, though it was a successful season, according to coach George Bravos.
Niles West finished 13-6 and the Bits and Park team finished with an impressive 22-7 mark. The coach said he believed every one of his regular players finished with a winning record.
“We’re happy with how the season went,” Bravos said. “We’re a little disappointed we couldn’t get one of our teams to qualify for state. I know they gave 100 percent effort on the court, and (Bits and Park) just got beat by a good GBS team.”
Maine East ties for fourth
The Blue Demons (four points) tied the Wolves for fourth. Sophomore Jessica Ilc and the doubles team of seniors Hemani Patel and Priya Naik, each picked up victories. ~.