Four players bound for state : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Four players bound for state|
|Oswego East wins tennis sectional, Oswego scores 12 points |
|by Christine Bolin Dascher|
The Oswego East girls' tennis team keeps checking goals off its list.
Southwest Prairie Conference title? Check.
IMSA Sectional title? Check.
Sending junior singles player Sajela Harlow, freshman singles player Jaiere Harlow and the Wolves' doubles duo of sophomores Leena Hwang and Alexis Blackmon to the state tournament? Check, check and check.
"It's very rewarding," Oswego East head coach Pete Conrad said. "It shows what kind of depth we have on this team. I knew going into the season we were strong in those positions."
Oswego East won the IMSA Sectional with 24 points. Batavia was second with 20 points after its doubles team of Jenny Mizikar and Amelia Cogan placed first overall.
Waubonsie Valley went third overall after scoring 14 points. The Warriors' doubles duo of Anna Reimers and Amanda Glavin advanced.
Oswego, Yorkville and West Aurora each tallied 12 points. The Blackhawks' No. 1 singles player, junior Emily Stefancic, the No. 2 seed, place first overall while Yorkville's top singles player, Lindsey Schlichting, also advanced. The Panthers did not get anyone out of the sectional.
"The girls played hard and pushed themselves against strong players," Oswego head coach Kate Belke said. "We avenged a couple losses from the regular season, and finished better than last year."
Some of the matches on Friday played at IMSA. When it got dark, play moved to Washington Park in Aurora under the lights. Due to the rain on Saturday, play was moved indoors to the Vaughan Athletic Center in Aurora.
All four players from Oswego East will play at different sites today, Thursday. Sajela Harlow will play sophomore Annemarie Emme from Glenbrook South at Elk Grove.
Jaiere Harlow will take on Joliet Catholic Academy senior Harley Hutchison at Conant.
Hwang and Blackmon will face Springfield seniors Janique Gleghorn and Miriam Agamah at Buffalo Grove. This will be Gleghorn's fourth appearance at the state tournament, as she previously advanced as part of a doubles team the past three years.
Fourteen different high schools in the Northwest suburbs are hosting the tournament. Play continues through Saturday in the double elimination tournament.
Sajela Harlow won both her matches on Friday and punched her ticket to the state tournament for the third time. She defeated her first opponent, 6-0, 6-0 and her second, Oswego's Sara Lemerman, 6-1, 6-0. Lemerman got the chance to play Sajela Harlow after Lemerman beat her opponent from Rosary, 6-1, 6-0.
"Sajela won two quick ones in two (on Friday) and was feeling pretty good going into Saturday," Conrad said.
Sajela Harlow defeated Schlichting, 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 but fell to Stefancic, who won 6-2, 6-1, for second place in singles.
"(Schlichting) gave her an incredibly tough match," Conrad said. "It wore her down, and she didn't have enough left in her for (Stefancic), who played incredibly well."
At state last year, Sajela beat her first and second round opponents before losing in the third round.
"She's excited - and this time, she gets to guide her little sister," Conrad said of Sajela getting back to state.
Jaiere Harlow beat her first round opponent on Friday, 6-0, 6-0 and her second round opponent and last year state qualifier from Batavia, Liza Fruendt, 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
On Saturday, Stefancic beat Jaiere, 6-1, 6-2, but Jaiere came back and beat Schlichting, 6-1, 6-2, for third place in singles.
"(Stefancic) was incredible, and Jaiere just didn't have the experience against her," Conrad said. "But I'm very excited she qualified. I don't know how she'll do, but she'll give anyone she faces a tough match."
Blackmon and Hwang are also first-time state qualifiers after they beat their opponent from IMSA, 6-3, 6-0 and Waubonsie Valley, 4-6, 6-3,6-3 on Friday.
On Saturday, Rosary's Andrea Govao and Megan Conlin defeated Hwang and Blackmon, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, but the Wolves turned it around and beat Waubonsie Valley's Anna Reimers and Amanda Glavin, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 for third place overall in doubles.
"(Blackmon and Hwang's) matches were exciting," Conrad said. "(Against Waubonsie Valley), they knew they were playing for third, and at one point they seemed tired and defeated...but they gutted it up, turned around and won a very important third set."
Mizikar and Cogan won the doubles title for Batavia after beating Govao/Conlin, 4-6, 7-6, 7-5.
Oswego East's other doubles duo, junior Kelly Dyja and senior Brittany Frederick, beat their opponent from East Aurora in the first round, but fell to IMSA in the second round on Friday.
"They played well and even grabbed us some points," Conrad said. "It was great because they came back on Saturday and cheered the other girls on."
Oswego's other singles player, sophomore Cali Bonie, dropped her first-round match to Yorkville's Jess Bossong, who won in two sets.
The Panthers' doubles duo of seniors Ashley Blocker and Leanne Schilling won their first match against East Aurora, 6-1, 6-0, but lost to Rosary's Govao/Conlin in two.
The other doubles team of senior Kala Wagner and Laura Dombkowski won their first match against West Aurora in two but lost to Batavia's Mizikar/Cogan in two.
"Kala and Laura were playing great (and) they looked like a completely different team than the one that played and lost to West Aurora the first time," Belke said. "They battled against Mizikar and Cogan as well, but Batavia is just a very strong team."
Oswego closed the 2012 campaign 10-2 in dual meets and 7-0 in the regular season in conference play. The Panthers finished second at the conference tournament and graduate just three seniors - Schilling, Blocker and Wagner.
"Overall, we had an average season," Belke said. "We hit some highs by going undefeated in our conference and moving up in our sectional, but also a few lows by dropping early matches in the conference tournament and struggling in our weekend tournaments. Our team worked well together and supported each other throughout the season, but we definitely have items we want to work on for next year and goals we still need to achieve. Our seniors will be greatly missed. They are our captains and our leaders. Even though there are only three, each played an important role in our practices, matches and morale."