Reclaiming the crown : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Reclaiming the crown|
|Oswego tennis team wins SPC title, Oswego East third|
|by Christine Bolin Dascher|
After last year's disappointment of losing the Southwest Prairie Conference tournament title in such close fashion, the Oswego boys' tennis team jumped back on top this year and won the eight-team event.
The Panthers, who won their sixth crown in seven years, scored a 24.5 in front of runner-up Minooka (23.5). Last year, Plainfield Central escaped with the crown after it finished with 22 points in front of Oswego's 21.5 points.
Oswego head coach Marjean Pobuda was glad that did not happen again this year.
"We are thrilled," Pobuda said. "We knew going in the only way we would walk away with the championship is if we played as a team, and we did. The guys worked together better than I have ever seen before. I am so proud of them."
Just like last year, Oswego East placed third with an 18.5. Plainfield Central was fourth (15), followed by Plainfield South (9), Plainfield East (4.5), Romeoville (3.5) and Plainfield North (3).
"After losing so many seniors from last year, we considered this a rebuilding season, so I'm happy with third place," Oswego East head coach Scott Gengler said. "I thought we played well, but you have to give credit to Oswego and Minooka. They also played well."
Oswego senior Jason Koesler won No. 1 singles after beating his opponent from Plainfield South in the title match (6-4, 3-6, 6-3). He first defeated his opponent from Plainfield East (6-0, 6-0) and then Romeoville (6-1, 6-3).
"Absolutely fantastic," Pobuda said. "I've known since last year what Jason was capable of. This year, our main goal was to convince him of what he could do. He did a fantastic job and we are looking forward to sectionals."
Oswego East sophomore Giri Ekkurthi won the No. 3 singles title after he defeated his opponent from Minooka (2-6, 7-5, 6-4) in the finals. To get there, he first defeated his opponent from Plainfield North (6-0, 6-1) and Plainfield East (6-4, 6-1).
"He went undefeated in conference (in the regular season) and really stepped up," Gengler said. "He has a very bright future ahead of him."
Oswego seniors Kyle Marsh/Danny Lederman won the No. 2 doubles title after they first defeated their opponents from Plainfield East (7-5, 6-1), Plainfield Central (7-5, 6-1) and Minooka in the finals (6-3, 6-4).
"(They are the) comeback team of the season," Pobuda said. "Last year, they lost in the first round in the conference tournament and they have been hungry for a comeback ever since. We said since the beginning of the season that this was their year and they proved that time and time again. Undefeated in conference duals, undefeated in the conference tournament, a final record of 13-1, they have been unstoppable. We are looking forward to big things at the start of sectionals."
At No. 1 doubles, Oswego East's duo of freshmen Mitch Perry/Ryan Zaprzal placed second after beating their opponents from Plainfield East (6-0, 6-0) and Plainfield Central (6-1, 3-6, 7-5) but falling to Plainfield South in the title match.
"Those two are awesome to watch," Gengler said. "They played well for freshmen against players who have been on varsity for a few years. They keep getting better and better. They had a great year, and I hope they have success at sectionals."
At No. 3 doubles, Oswego sophomores Ben Livingston/John Watson placed second after they first defeated their opponents from Plainfield South (6-0, 6-0) and Oswego East sophomore Rohan Pisharody/junior Chris Bishop (6-4, 7-5) before losing to the duo from Minooka (6-1, 5-7, 1-6) in the finals.
"To be a team of sophomores and to take second place at the conference tournament is phenomenal," Pobuda said. "These guys have learned so much this season and are constantly ready to take any opportunity that allows them to get better. I fully expect big things from them next year."
Pisharody/Bishop ended up in third place after starting off with a 6-4, 6-2 win over their opponents from Romeoville and ending the tournament with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 victory over their opponents from Plainfield Central.
"They played well, but lost to a good Oswego team," Gengler said.
Oswego East senior Sujay Shah placed third at No. 2 singles after he beat his opponent from Plainfield East (6-2, 7-5). He first defeated his opponent from Plainfield South (6-1, 6-0) but lost to the eventual champion from Minooka (6-6 (5-7), 6-2, 6-1), Ryan Bozue.
"He had a very good regular season and had the second seed going into it," Gengler said. "He beat (Bozue) in the regular season, but Ryan had the upper hand this time. (Shah) played great at No. 2 singles all season and we are going to miss him next year."
Oswego junior Nick Latzo went third at No. 3 singles after he first beat his opponent from Plainfield South (6-2, 6-4), lost to his opponent from Minooka (6-1, 6-2) and defeated his opponent from Plainfield East (3-6, 6-0, 6-2).
"All season long, I have known what Nick was capable of at third singles, and he proved it (on Monday)," Pobuda said. "He has such beautiful groundstrokes and can also be aggressive at net. I hope he sees his potential after this because next year is going to be his year at conference."
Oswego's duo of senior Hudson Cross/junior Grant Tuider placed third at No. 1 doubles after they first beat their opponent from Minooka (7-5, 6-3), lost to the eventual winners from Plainfield South (0-6, 1-6) but won in the third place match over Plainfield Central (3-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-1).
"This team is a testament to never giving up," Pobuda said. "We rode through a tough start to achieve an awesome conference finish. The way we played in our match against (Plainfield Central) was amazing. We put on a clinic with our volleys and really came together as a team. I hope they are as eager about sectionals as I am because they can achieve some big things this year."
At No. 4 doubles, Oswego senior Mitch Dergance/junior Bailey Miller placed third after starting off with a 6-2, 6-0 win over their opponents from Plainfield South, a 2-6, 0-6 loss to their opponents from Plainfield Central and a 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) victory over their opponents from Plainfield North.
"This conference draw was a challenge because there were a lot of teams we had not faced," Pobuda said. "However, Mitch and Bailey were awesome. They took everything in their stride and battled for every point. They are one of my favorite teams to watch because it is obvious they love what they do. They have had a great season."
At No. 2 doubles, Oswego East's duo of sophomore Pranav Selvan/Harsha Dantuluri went fourth after first defeating their opponents from Plainfield South (6-3, 6-0) but fell to both their opponents from Minooka (6-6 (4-7), 4-6) and Plainfield Central (4-6, 4-6).
"They just didn't peak at the right time," Gengler said. "They played great throughout the regular season but struggled a bit at the conference tournament."
Oswego junior Nikesh Patel placed fifth at No. 2 singles after his 6-1, 6-1 victory over his opponent from Plainfield North in the fifth-place match. He began with a 2-6, 1-6 loss to his opponent from Minooka, but bounced back with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory over his opponent from Plainfield South.
"The second singles draw this year was intense," Pobuda said. "However, there is no better player to handle this competition than Nikesh. He is one of our hardest workers and he never gives up on his matches. He had a tough first match in the backdraw, but he found a way to pull through. He will be a great asset to the team next year."
Oswego East senior Brandon Love/junior Donovan Kehoe placed fifth at No. 4 doubles. They started off with a 6-3, 2-6, 4-6 loss to their opponents (and eventual winners) from Minooka but bounced back and won 6-1, 6-0 over Romeoville and 7-5, 6-0 over Plainfield East.
"They played well together going in, but they had a tough first-round draw," Gengler said. "If it were any other opponent in the first round, they probably be playing for third or fourth place...but they played well."
Oswego East junior Costa Dassis did not earn a win at No. 1 singles. He lost in the first round to his opponent from Plainfield Central (0-6, 1-6) as well as his second round opponent from Plainfield North (3-6, 3-6).
"He's a great kid and a great person, and at the beginning of the year, I wasn't sure who was going to play at first singles, and he took on that role," Gengler said. "He learned a lot and will work hard in the off-season and will improve for next year."
Next up is the Plainfield East Sectional on Friday and Saturday. Oswego and Oswego East were two of the nine teams placed in the sectional. The others are Minooka, Neuqua Valley, Yorkville, Plainfield Central, host-Plainfield East, Plainfield North and Plainfield South.
Last year, Koesler advanced to the state tournament for the third straight year. No one advanced from Oswego East.
This year, Oswego will be represented by Koesler and Patel in singles and Cross/Tuider and Marsh/Lederman in doubles.
Oswego East will see Dassis and Shah compete in singles and Perry/Zaprzal and Pisharody/Selvan compete in doubles.