Naperville Central's number one singles player Kevin Bauman returns a volley against West Aurora's during boys tennis action in Naperville, Thursday.
Daniel White | Staff Photographer
Top teams: Hinsdale Central, Downers Grove South, Glenbard West, Naperville Central, Naperville North, Neuqua Valley, York.
Top players: Benet: Andrew Hermann, sr.; Mitchell Roemer, sr. Downers Grove South: Kyle Freischlag, sr.; Joey Leto, so.; Brian Sorich, sr. Glenbard South: Vince McPherson, sr.; Glenbard West: Matt Hirsh, so.; Filup Pacyna, so.; Hinsdale Central: Dan Ballantine sr.; Augie Bloom, sr.; Krishna Ravella, sr.; Ian Tesmond, sr.; Hinsdale South: George Alex, so.; Lake Park: Craig Cichowicz, sr.; Montini: Oliver James, so.; Naperville Central: Kevin Bauman, sr.; Mark Bicek, sr.; Neel Kunjur, sr.; Billy Sterrett, sr.; Naperville North: Marc Deetjen, sr.; Elliott Giraud, sr.; Reid Mutschler, sr.; Gordon Zhang, so.; Neuqua Valley: Andy Frandson, sr.; Brian Glavin, jr.; Skeeter Plowman, sr.; Tyler Wall, jr.; St. Francis: Kyle Dawson, sr.; Waubonsie Valley: Eric Marbach, fr.; Abvi Singh, so.; Wheaton Academy: Devin Moore, jr.; Wheaton North: Jack Lorentzen, sr.; Wheaton Warrenville South: Jimmy Li, sr.; York: Nathan Algrim, sr.; Chris Delgado, sr.; Mark Nosek, sr.; Jackson Parr, sr.
Outlook: Let's take care of the obvious first. Hinsdale Central has won the last three state champions and 16 under Jay Kramer, who retired after 50 years at the helm. First-year coach John Naisbett inherits the four seniors who have known nothing but state titles in their careers, and these Red Devils are, of course, favorites to make it a perfect 4-for-4. This year the seniors are augmented by a great sophomore class that's waiting for its chance at the glory.
Of the DuPage County teams in the West Suburban Silver, Glenbard West will be among the best of the rest behind the Red Devils. The Hilltoppers feature a pair of veteran doubles teams and highly ranked soph singles players Hirsh and Pacyna, who should be better for challenging each other in practice. York is basing its optimistic conference and state hopes on the return of four state qualifiers.
The tennis in Naperville will again be strong and competitive, probably even a little better across the board than last year. As they have the past two years, Naperville North and Naperville Central will battle for the DuPage Valley Conference championship with squads filled with talented veterans led by Bauman for the Redhawks and Zhang and Mutschler for the Huskies. The DVC title could again come down to the last match in the conference tournament.
The Wheatons should fight for third place with each one featuring a top player at first singles, Li at Wheaton Warrenville South and the much-improved Lorentzen at Wheaton North. "Our matches against the Napervilles and Wheaton South will determine where we finish in conference," said Falcons coach Rick Rateike.
Neuqua Valley, which finished in the top 10 at state for the first time in 2009, returns a nucleus of state qualifiers led by its great doubles player Plowman.
Waubonsie Valley will once again be a player this year as the Warriors feature more talent than they've had in awhile. And it's young talent, so the future looks bright. Marbach is one of the best freshmen in the area, while Singh transferred from Neuqua Valley, where he starred last year as a rookie. "This is a deeper team than we've had for a long time," said Waubonsie coach Phil Galow. "But it's young and we have to be patient. It will be exciting to watch."
Lake Park with Cichowicz at the head of the lineup will be a challenger in the Upstate Eight.
Downers Grove South has a wealth of talent and is looking to repeat in the West Suburban Gold with three players - Sorich, Freischlag and Leto - who could easily fill the first-singles spot.
St. Francis welcomes back its leader Dawson, who missed last year due to an elbow injury, and the Spartans are favored in the Suburban Christian as is Wheaton Academy, which will be led by state qualifier Moore.
Benet is optimistic about retaining its East Suburban Catholic Conference title with good balance, depth and the experience of seniors Herrmann, Roemer and Peterson.
Key dates: April 10: Benet/Downers Grove South Team Tournament; April 29 Naperville Central at Naperville North; May 7 NaperValley Invitational; May 14-15 conference tournaments; May 21-22 sectionals; May 27-29 state tournament.