Defending the net : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Defending the net |
|Oswego East girls' tennis team wins SPC title, Oswego second overall |
|by Christine Bolin Dascher|
The Oswego girls' tennis team may have swept the Southwest Prairie Conference competition in dual meet action, but when it came to conference tournament time, rival Oswego East was the one to come out on top.
The Wolves won the conference tournament title for the second consecutive year with 29 points. Oswego was close behind in second place with 25. Plainfield North was third with 18 points.
"In the last rounds, we played mainly opponents from Oswego, and with the rivalry, the girls were really pumped up for that," Oswego East head coach Pete Conrad said. "It's great for our school, but it's also great for the community and how well both teams from Oswego did."
On Sept. 11, when the two teams went head-to-head, Oswego edged out Oswego East, 4-3. It was the Wolves' lone conference dual meet loss of the season.
"We knew going into conference that it would be a battle between us and Oswego East," Oswego coach Kate Belke said. "It was just like the duel - whoever won the most head-to-heads would win. The girls stepped up and played well against Oswego East, and most did better than they did in the dual."
Oswego East's main threats - junior Sajela Harlow at No. 1 singles, freshman Jaiere Harlow at No. 2 and the No. 1 doubles duo of sophomores Leena Hwang and Alexis Blackmon - did not disappoint, as they all remained undefeated in conference action this year.
Two-time state qualifier Sajela Harlow beat her opponent from Minooka (6-0, 6-0), Plainfield South (6-1, 6-0) and Oswego junior Courtney Gooch (6-1, 7-5) for first place.
"It was Sajela's year to win No. 1 singles, even though Courtney gave her a great match," Conrad said. "Sajela did what she does - and looked very strong."
Gooch got to the finals after beating her opponents from Romeoville (6-1, 6-0) and Plainfield North (6-1, 6-0).
Jaiere Harlow beat her opponent from Minooka (6-0, 6-0) and Plainfield South (6-0, 6-1) before defeating Oswego sophomore Sara Lemerman in the first place match (6-2, 6-0).
"There hasn't been too many close matches for her all season," Conrad said of Jaiere Harlow. "Going into the season, we knew she was a special player. She's a very smart tennis player who knows what to do with the ball."
To get to the finals, Lemerman defeated Plainfield East (6-1, 6-0) and Romeoville (7-5, 6-1).
Hwang and Blackmon topped Plainfield East (6-1, 6-2) and Plainfield North (6-1, 6-0) before defeating Oswego's doubles team of senior Michaela Wagner and sophomore Laura Dombkowski, 6-1, 6-4.
To get to the finals, Wagner and Dombkowski bested Plainfield Central, 6-1, 6-1 and Minooka, 6-4, 6-1.
"They play well together," Conrad said of Hwang and Blackmon. "They both have their strengths. Last year, they won conference at No. 2 doubles, but stepped up big this year."
Senior Samantha Awad and freshman Haley Clebanoff also nabbed first-place honors at No. 3 doubles after defeating Plainfield South (6-2, 6-3), Plainfield North (6-2, 7-6) and Minooka in the finals (6-3, 6-1).
"These two didn't start playing together until after the dual meet with Oswego," Conrad said. "We made some changes, and from that point on, they went 4-0. Their type of play compliments one another. They really play well together."
Oswego placed first with senior Cali Bonie at No. 3 singles and seniors Ashley Blocker and Leanne Schilling No. 2 doubles.
To get to the finals, Bonie beat her opponent from Romeoville (6-0, 6-1), Plainfield Central (6-4, 6-4) and Oswego East senior Brittany Frederick, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.
Frederick got to the finals after topping Plainfield North (6-1, 6-3) and Plainfield South (6-1, 6-0).
"Cali fought hard and stuck with her game - even when challenged," Belke said. "That's the best thing a singles player can do."
Blocker and Schilling placed first after beating Plainfield Central (6-0, 7-6), Oswego East juniors Kelly Dyja and Megan Schaltegger (6-2, 2-6, 6-1) and Plainfield North in the first place match (6-2, 6-4).
"Ashley and Leanne played great all weekend," Belke said. "They are really hitting their stride at this point in the season and playing well as a team."
The No. 3 doubles team of juniors Courtney Licul and Olivia Lewis and the No. 4 duo of juniors Sydney Blount and Britnee Saelens each ended up in fifth place after losing in the first match of the tournament.
"What we didn't count on was having trouble in the first round," Belke said. "A couple teams had a bad first round on Friday, simple as that. It was a tough time to have a bad day, but it happens."
Both Oswego and Oswego East will be at the IMSA Sectional on Friday and Saturday with Yorkville, Batavia, West Aurora, Waubonsie Valley, IMSA, Rosary, Aurora Central Catholic and East Aurora. The state tournament is the following weekend.
Oswego's sectional lineup will be Lemerman and Bonie at singles and Wagner/Dombkowski and Blocker/Schilling at doubles.
"The girls know we have a tough sectional, but we've seen all the teams and are ready for what is in front of us," Belke said. "They are ready to take what they have learned throughout the season and hopefully fight their way out of sectionals."
Oswego East will send the Harlow sisters at No. 1 and No. 2 singles and Hwang/Blackmon and Frederick/Dyja at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively.
Last year, the Wolves placed second at the West Aurora Sectional behind Batavia. Sajela Harlow is the only state qualifier on Oswego East, but that might change after the sectional on Saturday.
"It's very possible both Sajela and Jaiere will go to state this year," Conrad said. "I think we have the talent, but the girls will go as far as their play will take them."