News and notes from Thursday's opening rounds of the IHSA boys tennis state tournament:
• East junior Jasper Koenen lost just two games in starting 3-0.
"I was on and off the court pretty fast, so I definitely conserved some energy for tomorrow and tomorrow's big match," he said. "That's a plus."
A cool, brisk opening day of the state tournament offered a stark contrast to last season's balmy conditions.
"It was cold, it was windy. The sun was shining. The sun wasn't shining," Koenen said. "But it wasn't raining, and I'll take that."
• Three seasons, three doubles partners, three Friday consolation berths.
Marmion senior Jackson Rettig knows the situation that faces him Friday. He's anxious to chart new ground with John Graft.
"This is the same thing that's happened to me the past two years and on the second day I haven't played well," said Rettig, a senior from Sugar Grove. "I'm just looking forward to tomorrow to take advantage of the opportunity and play the best i can. Just like, redemption, you could say."
Graft faced one half of Marmion's opposition in Friday's fourth-round consolation match "back in the day."
Graft squared off against Evanston's Sam Wiener – who'll team with Connor Woolf – when he was 12 or 14.
"I haven't played him in awhile, but I've seen him play, know he's a good player and am looking forward to competing," Graft said.
• East senior Justin Bowman ends his career as the program's winningest player. A four-time state qualifier headed to Wisconsin-Whitewater, Bowman went 104-27.
• Geneva coach John Nickelson on his two doubles teams – John Potts and Nick McCarty played four matches Thursday while Ryan Doeckel and Nick Huang played two:
"It was really exciting to be able to advance the two doubles teams into the state tournament. Both groups played really well together."
Kaneland's softball team entered this week's 3A Rosary Regional with regular-season victories against Rosary and Plano, who will play this afternoon to determine the Knights' opponent in a Saturday regional final.
After handling Sandwich, 10-0, in five innings Tuesday to advance to the title game, Knights coach Brian Willis was cautious about complacency.
"The beauty of sports is you never know," he said. "The ball could take some funny bounces on Saturday ... We're familiar with both teams. They're familiar with us. You'd like to say that we beat [Rosary] in a doubleheader and that helps us, but they hit the ball and we don't catch it, we're in trouble."
There was only a minor hiccup or two early in the Sandwich game, as the Knights breezed to a run-rule victory behind senior righty Ellissa Eckert's abbreviated one-hitter.
"I thought we did what we had to do. We came out, played solid offensively, defensively and Ellissa pitched well," Willis said. "So if we can get those things working, then you're going to be successful."
Defending 2A state champion St. Francis survived a physical test from the Hinsdale South girls soccer team on Wednesday, rebounding to score a 2-1 win in a Riverside-Brookfield Sectional semifinal.
"It was really the first team that kind of knocked us on our chin and knocked on us our butt," Spartans coach Jim Winslow said. "A lot of credit to my kids. They took it in and gave it back and controlled what they needed to control."
St. Francis trailed, 1-0, after the Hornets scored on a set piece.
Kaity Bucaro notched the tying goal before Corky Hart converted a Taylor Van Thournout through-ball to score the eventual game-winner.
St. Francis withstood its share of pressure from HInsdale South in the second half, but the back line helped hold things together in front of Spartans goalkeeper Jenna DiTusa
"The ball was down in our half more [after halftime]," Winslow said, "but I don't know if they got a decent shot out of it."
The Spartans will face Fenwick for the sectional title at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Wheaton Academy junior shortstop Marissa Gagliano on Wednesday was named Suburban Christian Conference Gold Softball Player of the Year.
Gagliano helped the Warriors to the SCC Gold crown by batting .642 in 19 regular-season games and stealing 30 bases in 31 attempts.
Four other teammates also were all-conference selections, including catcher Jess Bosse and left fielder Bridget Koehler, both sophomores from St. Charles.
Each of the Tri-Cities boys volleyball teams won regional semifinals Tuesday night, setting up a busy Wednesday that includes a rematch between St. Charles North and host Geneva.
Playing in St. Charles earlier this month, North swept the Vikings, 25-15, 25-18 en route to the Upstate Eight River Division title.
North Stars coach Todd Weimer watched Geneva rally to dispatch Addison Trail in three games Tuesday, and noticed a different energy in the Vikings.
"It was kind of a crazy game," he said. "I think the home court advantage really helped with the number of people there."
Can the Vikings keep themselves at the same level Wednesday?
"We're certainly hoping so," coach K.C. Johnsen said. "It needs to be."
At Rolling Meadows, St. Charles East also needed three games to win its regional semifinal, recovering from a Game 1 loss to defeat Wheaton Academy.
For the second night in a row, smart and savvy play steered the Saints.
"It was back and forth all night, which made it such a nail-biter," East coach Kate McCullagh said. "Obviously at the end, we did what we needed to do, took care of the ball and got the outcome we wanted."
Kane County Chronicle
St. Charles, IL
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