Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North will play host today to other girls tennis teams that will be part of the St. Charles East Sectional next month in a new event designed to give teams a better look at one another before the postseason pressure hits – and to help with seeding.
Kaneland is among the schools that will participate in the event, starting its morning at Geneva before swinging to St. Charles East and St. Charles North.
"We all talked about it last year, just trying to get creative in a way we could all play each other," Kaneland coach Tim Larsen said. "I think [Maureen Weiler] from Geneva sort of took the lead on it. ... It's a good sectional, a lot of pressure, a lot of really good players, so it's a nice warmup a couple weeks before."
After today, the Knights will turn their attention to gearing up for next weekend's Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference Tournament in DeKalb. Kaneland is one point behind Sycamore in the conference chase after dropping a tight dual meet with the Spartans, who Kaneland then defeated in a doubles tournament.
"Sycamore and Kaneland has turned into a really nice rivalry the last several years," Larsen said. "We've traded some blows so far this season. We're neck and neck right now, and there are a whole lot of points coming up at the tournament. I know we've been talking about it at practice, and I'm very sure they've been talking about it at practice."
Welton switches gears
Another of the area girls tennis teams taking part in today's sectional preview meet in Geneva and St. Charles is Wheaton Academy. The Warriors have had an interesting fall on a couple fronts, including having to replace their coach part-way into the season.
Kayli Diamond, who was in her first season coaching the varsity, stepped down after a couple weeks because of her new job's time demands. The school called upon Matt Hockett, who already coached the boys tennis team, to replace her in early September.
Hockett quickly implemented a major change, moving the Warriors' marquee player, junior Lexi Welton, from singles to doubles. A two-time state qualifier, Welton has experienced back pain during her career, and Hockett thought playing doubles would lessen her physical burden.
Teaming with fellow junior Betsy Jones, Wheaton Academy's No. 1 doubles team is unbeaten in Suburban Christian Conference play and has lost only once overall.
Hockett credited Jones with being "a workhorse" on days when Welton's back is not cooperating.
"She's a good player but for whatever reason her body is not handling that singles [load]," Hockett said of Welton. "I think right now we're sold on the fact we're a pretty good doubles team."
North cross country set to host meet
St. Charles North is the host school for a large, co-ed cross country meet this morning at LeRoy Oakes.
North Stars boys coach Kevin Harrington said the meet comes at a juncture of the season when the team is making a substantial shift in training to start building toward the postseason meets in a few weeks.
"We take back a little bit of the volume and start adding a little more speed to it to give them a little more rest," Harrington said. "We don't give them a lot of rest for a few more weeks, but it usually works out pretty well for us."
Harrington is encouraged by North's top four – seniors Spencer Gray, Nick Borger and Ryan Joyce and junior Nathan Klair – a quartet that is typically only separated by about 30 seconds, he said.
Finding a fifth runner to support those four is crucial. Among the candidates is senior Ryan McSweeney, who is making headway lately and "running like a senior right now," Harrington said.
IN THE GROOVE
Kimmie Scott, St. Charles East, Sr., Girls Swimming
What she did: Scott helped East to a dual meet win against Metea Valley on Thursday, winning the 50-yard freestyle in 25.69 seconds and the 100 freestyle in 55.67 seconds.
Miranda Grizaffi, Batavia, Jr., Girls Tennis
What she did: After overwhelming Streamwood's Stephanie Sakyi, 6-0, 6-0, at No. 1 singles on Wednesday, Grizaffi knocked off St. Charles East's Sarah Church, 6-2, 6-3, the next day.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM LAST WEEK
Batavia is the class of the Upstate Eight Conferece River Division in girls tennis.
Playing their closest conference competition, the Bulldogs defeated St. Charles East on Thursday, 4-3, after sweeping singles and notching a doubles win from the top team of Jenny Mizikar and Amelia Cogan.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Which area girls tennis teams best rise to the postseason occasion. Conference tournaments are on tap next weekend.
COACH SLY SAYS
That Cogan family knows how to bash them tennis balls.
We all remember Josh's stellar, recently completed career for the Batavia boys, and now his little sister, Amelia, is doing big-time work at 1-dubs for the Batavia girls.
Looks like the Doggies are going to follow up their boys conference title from the spring with a girls conference title this fall, and a certain clan is a big piece in that equation.