Gordon Zhang of Naperville North winning his first match on the first day of boys state tennis tournament.
Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer
If your school has the word Naperville in its name, Thursday's opening day of the IHSA tennis tournament was a great day.
A Naperville North singles player and doubles team and a Naperville Central doubles team won all three of their matches to advance to today's Sweet Sixteen.
The Naperville representatives who earned the right to go on in the championship bracket are Huskies singles player Gordon Zhang and doubles Elliot Giraud and Reid Mutschler.
Naperville Central doubles Kevin Bauman and Billy Sterrett topped off their victorious day with a 6-4, 6-0 win over the highly regarded Neuqua Valley pair of Patrick Carpio and Skeeter Plowman.
"They play well together in terms of thinking and communicating strategies during a match," said Naperville Central coach Dan Brown about Bauman and Sterrett, who went into the tournament as a 9-16 seed. "They really feed off each other's success and they have a good sense of one guy setting the other guy up for the kill. They get crisper as the match goes on. It's fun to watch. In the second set they played practically flawless doubles."
"We came out kind of stiff," Bauman said. "They didn't miss and took the first two games. Then we got the momentum going our way and once we figured them out and started winning, we didn't stop."
"That second set was close to the best if not the best we've played all year," Sterrett said. "It gets us one step closer to our dream, which is to play on Saturday."
Three-time defending champion Hinsdale Central is co-leader with New Trier in the team standings with 22 points. Naperville North and Neuqua Valley are among those tied for ninth in the standings with 13.
Both Zhang at singles and Giraud and Mutschler at doubles were seeded in the 9-16 group.
"To have worked so hard that you get seeded that high is important," said Naperville North coach Heather Henricksen. "It helps you so much with your draw, and it gives you confidence going in. Our boys were ready to play. They came out like champions and got the job done."
"Today, I felt my serve was working very well," Zhang said. "And my backhand was solid throughout the day."
"We had consistent returns and played our game pretty aggressively," Mutschler said.
All three Huskies' three-match winners are hoping to keep the success going Friday to help them finish in the top 10 in state.
Jimmy Li of Wheaton Warrenville South, another 9-16 seed, won his three matches and the right to play top-seeded Robert Stineman of New Trier in today's first match.
"Jimmy is playing with a lot of confidence and desire," said Tigers coach Patti Clousing. "He's really attacking and going forward. And he prepares before the match starts. He gets away from everyone and really focuses, mentally imagining the match he wants to play. If he keeps up that attacking mentality, he can go all the way."
Hinsdale Central singles Augie Bloom, and the Red Devils doubles teams of Ian Tesmond and Dan Ballantine, and Sam Bloom and Krishna Ravella also advanced to the round of 16.