ROSELLE – The hard part was over by Saturday for both the St. Charles North and East boys tennis teams at the Lake Park Sectional.
North qualified both of its doubles teams for the IHSA State Tournament on Friday while East’s top-two singles players advanced to next week’s meet as well.
With state qualifying out of the way, all that was left for teams and players to do was to claim the sectional crown. Having accumulated four singles and two doubles wins on Friday, all East needed was a victory in singles to claim the outright team title.
Jasper Koenen, East’s top singles player, wasted little time with a 6-1, 6-1 semifinal victory against Geneva’s West Adelman. The match took just less than an hour and allowed the Saints to claim their first sectional title since 1993.
Koenen later claimed the singles sectional title for the second year in a row as the sophomore beat fellow East player Justin Bowman, 6-0, 6-1. Bowman reached the final by besting second-seeded Matt Krzyankiak of Glenbard North, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2, in a match that took almost three hours.
Koenen will now hope for a favorable draw in the state singles tournament that starts Thursday.
“It’s definitely a good feeling winning such a big tournament two years in a row,” Koenen said of his two straight sectional singles championships. “It was great that [Bowman and Koenen] both got to the finals. It’s tough playing a teammate but your reward is knowing you’ve scored so many points for the team. Knowing that you started on opposite sides (of the bracket) and meeting each other in the finals is really a great thing.”
Meanwhile, North claimed runners-up honors on the strength of its doubles teams. Danny Oakes and Dom Amalraj bested Freddy and Erwin Lavric of Fenton, 6-0, 6-1, to reach the finals at No. 1 doubles. Oakes and Amalraj were hoping to meet North’s second doubles team of Cam Staroske and Grant Spellman in the finals. It wasn’t to be, however, as Staroske and Spellman dropped a heartbreaker to Evan Sabal and Jack Millikan of Lake Park, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6) in a three-hour match.
Oakes and Amalraj made quick work of Sabal and Millikan in the final, sweeping the match 6-0, 6-0 to claim the sectional title. North coach Sean Masoncup thinks his top doubles team will be a tough draw at the state tournament.
“I’m really happy with them (Oakes and Amalraj) – I think they proved to some people what they are all about,” Masoncup said. “Yesterday, they had a slow start but they still took care of business. Today in the finals match, you saw what happens when they get a little feisty. They can play some phenomenal tennis, I think the sky is the limit for them. They are starting to get the name and I hope the seeding committee sees that and will help us out.”
Oakes and Amalraj are now 28-1 and have won 27 straight matches since an opening loss at their first tournament of the season.
Staroske and Spellman made up for their semifinal loss by taking third place with a 6-3, 6-4 win against the Lavric brothers of Fenton.
East coach Rob Livermore and Saints, meanwhile, will enjoy their first sectional crown in nearly 20 years.
“This is a long time coming and team is really excited. The best part about is that everyone on the sectional team contributed to the championship,” Livermore said. “We really needed our doubles teams to win some matches for us, which they did. Without those guys winning the opening round matches and scoring some points, we might not be here.”
Geneva’s Adelman finished fourth in singles after dropping the third-place match 6-3, 6-2 to Krzyaniak.