Where's Hinsdale Central?
That what the field at the Hersey Invite was asking on Saturday.
The defending state champion was a no-show on the courts Saturday morning, leaving reigning Mid-Suburban League champ Fremd to freely exercise its muscle on a trio of opponents, including Glenbard West. In the championship match, the Vikings defeated the Hilloppers 6-1.
"Obviously we would have liked (Hinsdale) here today, hoping to play them in the finals to see where we match up with the best team in the state," said Fremd coach Ken Goettsche, who watched his best player, Kenta Shimizu and his teammate Ryan Kreis, win all 3 matches at No. 1 doubles, including a win over conference rival Hersey (Kevin Amarantos-Yuki Chiba) 6-4, 6-4.
"It's a good move for both Ryan and I, and also the team," said Shimizu when asked why both he and Kreis are the Vikings No. 1 doubles team this spring after each won MSL crowns at Nos. 1 and 2 singles last season. "We feel if we can play together right from the start of the season that we can have a good run in the state tournament later on, and in turn, it gives a couple of our younger guys (Rio Miyawaki-Maciek Niemczyk) the opportunity to play as our top guys at singles an entire year and be ready to take on more responsibility next year after we graduate."
Niemczyk came back from being down 5-1 in the tiebreaker to defeat one of the best players in the league in Hersey's Eric Klawitter (6-2, 1-6, 8-6) to help the Vikings in their 6-1 semifinal victory.
Kreis held serve to seal a first-set win against Hersey, then the two sides took turns breaking the other to make it 4-4 until the Vikings broke back to go up 5-4. An ace by Shimizu helped finish off the Huskies for good.
"We feel we can play with a great team like (Fremd) and with our improved play and communication, maybe we will play them again for the MSL title later on this year," said Amarantos, who came together with Chiba in the off-season to play several USTA tournament in advance of the 2010 campaign.
Runner-up Glenbard West and its top player, Matt Hirsch, fared well on the day. The Hilltoppers sophomore continuing his winning ways this season with a 3-0 day.
"I gained a lot of experience from qualifying into the state tournament last season, but I know that it won't be easy to get back there this year," said Hirsch, who will need to squeeze in between all three returning state qualifiers from his sectional (Jimmy Li, Gordan Zhang and Vince McPherson) in addition to Kyle Dawson (St. Francis), who missed all of last season following surgery.
"Matt had a great off-season, getting bigger and stronger while adding a touch of aggressiveness and deception to his game," said West coach Jim Valleskey, whose entire doubles lineup is filled with experienced seniors.
Two-time state qualifier Chris Federighi looked good in all three of his matches, which did not surprise coach Bud Lachel, who is back for his 41st season with Cary-Grove.
"Last year Chris had to deal with some ankle issues and stomach problems (due to his serve) but he's back this season healthy, and appears ready to be one of the top guys in the FVC this year," said Lachel.
"I changed (up) some things with my serve, tossing the ball farther to my right, which should alleviate any stress that (my) serve put on my abdomen, and my ankle is feeling really good as well," said Federighi, a junior who qualified at doubles as a freshman along with Jake Szybowicz.
Prospect was without four starters on this ACT Saturday, and went 2-1 on the day, as did its MSL East rival Buffalo Grove, which defeated Cary-Grove 5-2 in the fifth-place dual.
"We have a lot of varsity newcomers with us this year, so some of them are going to take a few bad losses here and there while they learn what it's like to play at this level of tennis," said Bison coach Kevin Schrammel, who singled out doubles veterans Steve Mazzoni, Brett Wallace and Tim Blankshain for their efforts, as well as rookie Vlad Zuperman, who teammed with Mazzoni.