ST. CHARLES – Talk about a close finish.
No one could have predicted the outcome of the Upstate Eight River boys tennis tournament.
The seasonlong battle between Batavia and St. Charles North for the championship title went down to the wire.
Coming into the tournament, the Bulldogs had a slight, three-point edge over the North Stars based on dual meet results.
Strong performances by the North Stars gave them an additional two points at the meet.
The final score came down to that single point. After all was said and done May 13, Batavia was the victor over St. Charles North by a combined season and tourney score of 68-67.
“Every year it comes down to us and them. ... Going into the tournament we were right there with North. It’s gone back and forth. We’ve won three of the last five. They won the other two. Every year, we have a nice little rivalry going,” Batavia coach Brad Nelson said. “We knew going into this one it was going to be going into the last day and some of the last matches. Thankfully, we had enough points to get us through because they actually played really well on [the second day of the tournament May 13].”
Every player in the Bulldogs’ lineup finished in the top three positions, which was needed for Batavia to pull off the conference title.
“We talked about in order for us to win we had to have everybody play to their seeds,” Nelson said.
St. Charles East finished third with 60 points. Geneva was fourth with 53 points.
“We finished first as a team. We all were in the semifinals after the first day and we came out playing strong,” Batavia sophomore singles player Chase Bremner said.
Bremner topped Streamwood’s Alex Veltkamp 6-4, 1-6, 6-0 to win the title at No. 2 singles.
“First set was a close set. We were just battling. Second set, I was getting really tired. My serve wasn’t doing as well. He was just picking up his game,” Bremner said. “That first game is always critical. After the first set, I just started letting up. In the third set, I realized it wasn’t over. I picked my game up.”
After transferring from Wheaton North, Bremner instantly added depth to the Bulldogs’ lineup.
“Chase, we knew what his résumé was coming in from Wheaton North,” Nelson said. “He was a state qualifier last year. He was undefeated this year at second singles. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and more.”
At No. 1 singles, Batavia’s Brogan Pierce was second after a 7-5, 6-0 loss against Chris Veltkamp of Streamwood.
“It was a good matchup. He played really good,” Pierce said. “We had a good battle in the first set and it was really close. At the start of the second set, he got in a good lead. I felt that I kind of left the match a little. I think I can get better at fighting harder to come back in the second set.”
A freshman, Pierce has had a great season, winning 20 matches.
“He’s played a really tough schedule and gotten better every time,” Nelson said.
In doubles action, St. Charles East’s Chuck Downing and Kevin Schreiner topped Batavia’s Cam Marbach and Tommy Maren, 6-4, 6-4 at No. 1.
North’s Ajay Gustafson and Connor Bajuk defeated Batavia’s duo of Will McClure and Will Freiburger at No. 2 doubles. The North Stars also won No. 3 and No. 4 doubles titles against Batavia.
Conference champ Batavia now gets ready for the St. Charles East sectional meet, where Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North will be in the mix.
“Hopefully, we can get some people through,” Nelson said. “It will be a tough singles sectional. Hopefully, our two guys will be among the last four standing.”
IF YOU GO
Who: Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East, St. Charles North
What: Class 2A boys tennis sectional
When: 1 p.m. May 19; 9 a.m. May 20
Where: St. Charles East High School, 1020 Dunham Road, St. Charles