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One senior, two swan songs for Batavia girls tennis tandem

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(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Batavia junior Amelia Cogan will make her last state tournament appearance as she will be moving with her family to Idaho at the end of this season.

AURORA – Batavia junior Amelia Cogan vacated her post as a cheerleader before the school year started, which apparently meant surrendering her ability to sugarcoat, too.

Cogan knows the truth, and she can handle it: Once her parents sell the family’s home, she will leave Batavia, its girls tennis program and the friends she’s accumulated since moving to town in fourth grade, and head for Boise, Idaho.

Through it all, Cogan never bothered burying her perspective in a box with the rest of her belongings. Instead of letting a pending relocation cast a pall over this week’s IHSA state tournament alongside doubles partner Jenny Mizikar, Cogan views things as a celebration, not a swan song.

“We’ve been pretty open about it. We kind of make jokes about it. So it’s not something that we’re all afraid to talk about,” Cogan said. “We’re just like, ‘Well, it’s happening,’ and we all accept it.”

Mizikar was transitioning from this three-year partnership as it was. The all-time winningest player in program history is a senior balancing thoughts of college visits with good vibes about her own state finale.

Mizikar and Cogan enter today’s opening rounds with a 28-2 record. They teamed for no fewer than 32 victories in both 2011 and 2012, which also ended with state berths. The pair won three matches at state last fall, including two in the winner’s draw.

Their arrangement started when Bulldogs coach Brad Nelson placed a promising freshman with a solid sophomore on a hunch two falls ago. While many miles and states soon will separate them as Cogan’s father, Steve, begins new employment, Mizikar is confident this isn’t a definitive end of her association with Cogan.

“We always talk about it, and it’s always like, ‘Oh, this is our last conference match,’ or ‘This is our last sectionals’ or our ‘This is’ whatever,” Mizikar said. “But I don’t know. I feel like we’d always meet up later and maybe do a tournament or two.”

Then maybe grab lunch or frozen yogurt, two of the pals’ favorite pastimes.

That Mizikar also concedes “everything ends, eventually, I guess,” explains her urgency with Cogan this week.

Inclement weather prompted the pair to practice with fellow state-bound Bulldogs Nora McClure (singles) and Brooke LeFevre and Sydnee Unterberg (doubles) at the indoor Vaughan Center on Tuesday night. Years ago, Cogan and Mizikar knew each other in passing when one ended lessons at Vaughan as the other started them.

Both players’ older brothers – Josh Cogan and Alek Mizikar – were friends and teammates on the Batavia boys team around the time their sisters first paired.

Many good times and romps rolled from there, with Amelia Cogan often stalking the baseline and Jenny Mizikar asserting herself at the net.

Cogan and Mizikar opened this season on a long unbeaten tear, not losing until the Oct. 5 Wheaton Warrenville South Doubles Invitational. A team from Glenbrook South turned the trick after two strong singles players – including lofty state singles seed Annemarie Emme – joined together.

Saturday’s contentious, 7-5, 6-0 loss to Bartlett’s Jennifer Gates and Gabriella Gregorio in the St. Charles East Sectional sent Cogan and Mizikar to state with renewed focus.

“I really think that they can hit with anybody, they can play with anybody. It’s just a matter of keeping under control,” Nelson said. “Because they had won a lot of matches that were pretty easy this year, so when we get in a tighter match, the emotions tend to play a bigger role one way or the other.”

The circumstances behind the move and the sale of the family home leave Cogan in limbo. Steve Cogan, a former Office Max employee, joined Boise-based grocer Albertsons as an executive in August and visits Batavia from time to time. He has been in town for the Upstate Eight Conference meet and state series.

“I’m a midwestern girl. Boise’s a little different,” Amelia Cogan said. “A little hillier, so might get a little carsick out there.”

Josh Cogan, a member of the men’s tennis team at Washington University in St. Louis, also can attest to midwestern roots. The family lived in Green Bay, Wis., before coming to Batavia.

The Idaho High School Activities Association offers girls tennis as a spring sport. Amelia Cogan was initially optimistic to head west in time for the spring semester to at least practice with her new team, but she may be in Batavia through the end of her junior year.

Because she can’t control the home sale, the only real estate Cogan truly is concerned with is that which she and Mizikar cover this weekend – ideally through Saturday’s championship rounds.

“I’m kind of sad but in the end I’m very pumped for state,” Cogan said. “I’m looking forward to doing well and just having a good last season with Jenny and me being in Batavia for one last year. I’m excited.”

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