Fujimoto, Vikes take WSC crown again
SUGAR GROVE – Tennis' mental side escaped the equation for Geneva senior Kayla Fujimoto late Saturday afternoon.
Tied with Sycamore junior Veronica Behrens entering an unexpected third set for the No. 1 singles title at the Western Sun Conference Meet, she resolved to get physical, once and for all.
"After I lost that second set, I stopped and thought to myself about my college scholarship and my whole high school career and realized this was something I shouldn't have been fretting about," Fujimoto said. "I just kind of turned my head off and played some tennis."
The Indiana-bound Fujimoto immediately raced to a lead against Behrens to clinch her fourth successive individual title at the top singles spot, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.
Soon enough, she filled Vikings coach Maureen Weiler in on a prouder detail: Geneva has won the overall team title in each of Fujimoto's four seasons, too.
Teammates Carly Ausman (No. 2 singles), Liz Horonzy (No. 3) and the No. 3 doubles tandem of Abby Baumer and Stephanie Michael also claimed individual crowns to help the Vikings defeat second-place Batavia, 30-27.
"Everybody on the team had to play so well for us to win this kind of tournament, and my girls did that," Weiler said. "This is exactly the spot we wanted to be in. We're on top of the conference and looking to keep going with our season."
Fine-tuning for next weekend's IHSA sectionals was also a priority in the WSC's final gathering. Five of the league's eight teams will join the new Northern Illinois Big 12 next season while a pair of archrivals – Batavia and Geneva – shift animosities to the Upstate Eight.
The Bulldogs edged the Vikings, 4-3, in a dual at Geneva late last month, and Batavia positioned itself for the top spot with titles at three doubles slots. Mallory Ramp and Tamar Norville defeated Glenbard South's Lauren Kaczmarek and Amanda Kuhn, 6-3, 7-5 at No. 2, while the No. 4 team of Brooke Svitak and Kim Jernstad beat Kirby Arloff and Val Salesky of Geneva, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2.
Batavia also boasted runners-up in Hannah Potter at No. 2 singles and the No. 3 doubles tandem of Lauren Berczynski and Erika Connolly. It wasn't enough.
"We really expected to beat them," Fujimoto said. "That dual match definitely put things into perspective and made our team work harder to get what we were shooting for."
Kaneland scored six team points to earn fifth place. Fourth-place showings from Lindsay Jurcenko at No. 1 singles and Olivia Emmanouil and Liz Webb at No. 1 doubles led the way as players braved temperatures that hovered around the low-40s.
Add a surprise shift in singles sites – matches in the Nos. 1 and 2 flights started at Sycamore but finished at Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove when some courts were too slick – and it made for a long day regardless of outcome.
"You feel cold, you feel rushed, and that can have an affect on how you play if you let it," Kaneland coach Tim Larsen said. "We didn't perform as well as we had been. I wish we had."