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State tennis loaded with challenges

Caption
(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Kirby Einck of Geneva competes against Carla O'Bryne of St. Ignatius College Prep in the second round of the IHSA state tournament championship bracket at Palatine High School Thursday. Einck won 6-3, 6-0.

PALATINE – Lexie Petrovic struck a hard line-drive shot toward Geneva junior Kirby Einck, who was in good position to return the volley. The ball hit the net cord, seemed to balance on top of it for a moment, then fell on Einck’s side of the net.

It was that kind of match for Einck on Thursday in the third round of the championship bracket of the IHSA Girls Tennis State Tournament at Palatine High School. Petrovic, a Nazareth Academy senior and a 5-8 seed, sent Einck into the tournament’s consolation bracket with a 6-2, 6-1 victory.

“I felt like I got a lot of balls back,” Einck said. “She’s a great player. … She made [every shot] today. There’s not much I can do about it. I’m pretty pleased with the way I played.”

Despite cold and windy conditions, Einck opened the day in strong fashion, shutting out Jasmine Owens of Oak Park-River Forest, then dispatching Carla O’Bryne of St. Ignatius, 6-3, 6-0.

“The first two matches, it was all about who could judge the wind better,” Einck said. “My second match, she was a tough player. I was able to play my game and just really read the wind better is what it came down to.”

Einck said battling the elements was as difficult as trying to beat the competition.

“It’s like there’s a third player out there,” she said. “You’ve got the wind coming at you and then you’ve got the cold. Your hands are numb. You can’t really feel the ball. It’s definitely tough, but it makes you feel so much better when you can win in these types of conditions.”

Geneva’s other singles entrant, freshman Grace Krueger, went 1-2 on the day, while the Vikings’ doubles team of Margo Hess and Emma Hazel split four matches.

Hess and Hazel opened play at Fremd in Palatine with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Dixon’s Hayley Kent and Jessica VanOosten. Carmel’s Michelle Kannenberg and Kathleen Felicelli then bested the Geneva duo in straight sets.

In consolation play, Hess and Hazel knocked off Abby and Caroline Witkowski from Loyola Academy, 6-3, 7-5, but were eliminated from the tournament with a tough three-set loss to Fenwick’s Dana Balk and Anna Sprajcer, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Like Einck, the Batavia doubles team of Jenny Mizikar and Amelia Cogan advanced to the third round of the championship bracket before being dropped into the consolation bracket with a loss to a 5-8 seed. The two Bulldogs started their day at Rolling Meadows with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Tiffany Bui and Janine Urgello from Downers Grove South, then whitewashed Mattoon’s Kristen Doty and Katie Ervin in a pair of sets.

“We played awesome,” Mizikar said. “Both of us together did our best.”

In the third round, the Batavia tandem lost a first-set tiebreaker to Edwardsville’s Mallory Abert and Megan LaRose and trailed 2-0 in the second set before rallying for a 6-3 victory to force a third set.

Mizikar and Cogan led the deciding set, 5-4, but Albert and LaRose battled back to force another tiebreaker. The Bulldogs fell behind 5-0 in the tiebreaker, pulled back to within 5-3, but lost the final two points of the match.

“I definitely think it was one of our closest, most intense matches of the season,” Mizikar said. “We definitely played our ‘A’ game. We made mistakes here and there, but we also had some really good points and went back and forth with some really good volleys and rallies.”

The pair will be back in action today in the consolation bracket at Rolling Meadows.

“We’re going to go back to the hotel tonight and we’re going to forget about this match,” Cogan said. “We’re going to go in tomorrow – clean slate. This match didn’t happen. We played a great match, and so did Edwardsville.”

Batavia’s other state qualifiers – Nora McClure in singles and the doubles team of Brooke LeFevre and Sydnee Unterberg each – went 0-2 on the day.

Kaneland’s state competitors went a combined 6-2 on the day. 

“We had a pretty good day today,” Kaneland coach Tim Larsen said. “We’re fairly pleased. We’re here for Friday, so we’re in a pretty good mood about it.”

In singles play at Hoffman Estates, Sammie Schrepferman opened with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Edwardsville’s Emily Lombardi. Glenbard West’s Caroline Maltby then knocked Schrepferman into the consolation bracket, 7-6 (6-2), 4-6, 6-3. 

Schrepferman won a pair of straight-set victories in consolation play to stay alive for today. 

The Knights’ doubles pair of Jelly Emmanouil and Madi Jurcenko lost their opener at Buffalo Grove in three sets to Samantha Sherman and Meghan Hickey of Lyons Township. 

The Kaneland girls came back nicely in consolation play with three straight-set victories.

Playing at Rolling Meadows, the Rosary doubles team of Megan Conlin and Andrea Goyao opened the tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Mykennah Allen and Alexis Halbrook of Shelbyville. A 6-3, 6-4 loss to 9-16 seed Martina Dragoytchev and Jessica Chepurda of Glenbrook South sent the Royals’ duo into consolation play, where they won in straight sets over Bui and Urgello to set up a meeting with familiar rivals, IMSA’s Nahee Park and Emily Ling.

“This is our fourth time meeting,” said Goyao, a senior. “We played them in singles and doubles this year and we’ve always been back and forth.”

This meeting was no exception. After winning the opening set, Conlin and Goyao fell behind 5-2 in the second set. The pair rallied to force a tiebreaker, which they led, 5-1. Park and Ling managed to pull back even at 6, but Conlin and Goyao won the final two points.

“So we’ll be back here tomorrow,” said Conlin, a senior. “Overall, we played our hearts out today.”

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