ST. CHARLES – Between keeping score, calling around to other sites and ultimately tending to everything else involved in coordinating the St. Charles East girls tennis tournament, Saints coach Sena Drawer dispensed the following advice Saturday afternoon:
"You have the time of your life out there."
She was addressing the combatants in the fifth-place match at No. 1 singles, but Drawer's words to Ava Kolman of St. Francis and Emme Lindquist of Wheaton North might has well have been evergreen to the rest of the eight-team field.
Wonderful weather and a well-paced match flow at East, St. Charles North and Geneva served as backdrop as Naperville Central edged Batavia, 57-51, for the team title. Here's a look at the Bulldogs' push, among other highlights for Chronicle-area teams, including East (fourth), Geneva (sixth) and St. Francis (seventh):
Dogged doubles: Batavia captured championships at No. 1 doubles (Amelia Cogan/Jenny Mizikar) and No. 3 doubles (Caroline Lantz/Julianne Robinson) while earning three runner-up finishes.
East claimed the other two doubles titles behind strong efforts from Haydyn Jones and Kelsie Roberton (No. 2) and Katie Downing and Kelly Rinker (No. 4).
Cogan and Mizikar assured they'd improve on last season's third-place run with a 5-7, 6-4 (10-8) victory against the Naperville Central duo of Meaghan Bedigian and Sara Furukawa in the semifinals.
"My heart started beating pretty fast, so I was a little nervous," Mizikar said, "but I knew we could pull it off and get the win."
There was much less tension in the final, a 6-0, 6-2 sweep of Benet's Margaret Wilhelm and Katie Telford. Cogan and Mizikar, paired for the third straight fall, yielded their only two games after racing to a 5-0 edge in the second set.
"We were kind of just rolling through, and so it definitely was like, 'All right. One more. We can do it. Let's just get it, get it over with,' " Mizikar said.
Einck can see you: Geneva junior Kirby Einck and Naperville Central sophomore Tiffany Chen exchanged pleasantries at the net after Chen's 6-3, 6-2 victory in the No. 1 singles final.
Moments later, Chen admitted "I see a lot of myself in Kirby," who she defeated in a tiebreaker during the teams' Sept. 5 dual in Naperville. The analysis sounded about right to Einck as she quickly forms a friendly rivalry with Chen, a fourth-place state finisher in her debut season last fall.
"I think we're both aggressive. We like to be the first ones to take the ball and hit a winner or get the opponent off their feet a little bit. So I would say, yeah, we have pretty similar games," Einck said. "Steady, too, from the baseline. We don't really like to go to the net, though, not too much. But we dominate the baseline, for the most part."
Einck, a four-match winner at state in 2012, lost just three games in her opening-round and semifinal victories Saturday.
"I've beat some really good players, and then I had a really good match with Tiffany that Thursday [Sept. 5] and today," Einck said. "So I'm pretty satisfied with how the season's going so far."
Geneva's Grace Krueger finished third at No. 2 singles for the Vikings' next-highest finish.
Saints alive in doubles draw: Mizikar did something of a doubles take upon seeing Jones and Roberton when she arrived at East, which hosted matches in the No. 1 singles and No. 1 and No. 2 doubles draws.
In a bid to strengthen the pairing of senior twins Alexa and Carly Huskisson – East's usual No. 2 tandem – Drawer flip-flopped the pair with Jones and Roberton.
"I came here and we were looking for a court to warm up, and I was like, 'Hey, Haydn and Kelsie,' because I know them. 'Who are you playing first?' " Mizikar said. "Then they were like, 'Well, we're [No.] 2 doubles today.' I'm like, 'Oh, OK.'" But we'll definitely play them some more."
Batavia hosts East in Upstate Eight Conference River Division play Sept. 24, a prelude to the UEC meet at Geneva on Oct. 11-12 and the St. Charles East sectional the following weekend.
While the Huskisson twins placed fourth, Jones and Roberton had all they could handle to defeat the Bulldogs' Brooke LeFevre and Sydnee Unterberg, 6-4, 6-4 in their final. Jones and Roberton admitted to some scrambling to avoid their first loss of the season.
"It was up and down the whole time, you know. They'd go up and then we'd go up. It was really hard mentally," Jones said. "That was probably the biggest one, because we'd have to come back up from being down a couple games, so that was a big thing."
Spartan effort: The No. 3 doubles tandem of seniors Annie Madigan and Caitlin Marron placed fourth to earn St. Francis' highest finish. Four Spartans entries placed fifth, as St. Francis finished one point behind Geneva for sixth place, 32-31.