All of the success that Lyons Township sophomore Alex Chatt achieved during her first girls tennis state meet made the ending all the more disappointing.
Chatt got all of the way to the state championship match in singles as a No. 3-4 seed and nearly won it all before Morgan Park Academy junior Jerricka Boone rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory Saturday afternoon at Prospect High School.
It was the second state singles title for Boone, who missed last year’s meet with a wrist injury. Chatt qualified for state last year but sat out because of a hip injury.
Chatt led Boone 5-3 in the second set and 4-2 in the third -- both times with the serve -- before being thwarted by a pair of four-game runs by No. 2 seed Boone.
“I’m happy I got second, but it was just too good to be true. I was so close (to winning),” Chatt said. “(Boone) just made adjustments. She played a lot smarter when she got down. What won the match was her experience. She just kind of stepped it up when she needed to.
“Getting up 5-3, I guess I just needed to focus more and close it out, focus on every point more. There’s nothing I would do differently but closing it out at 5-3.”
Chatt nearly became only the second state singles champion in LT history, joining 1994 graduate Margie Lepsi, the 1992 and 1990 state champion and 1991 state runner-up. Chatt already is the Lions’ only other top-two state singles finisher. 2010 graduate and currently University of Iowa player Tina Harazin was third in 2009, when Boone won her first championship.
“(Chatt) had one of the best tournaments I’ve ever seen. Did she have a chance of winning it? She did, but the other kid fought her off,” LT coach Bill Wham said.
“That’s one match. You’ve got to look at the whole thing. It’s pretty amazing for a sophomore to do that well, not having played in the tournament before. I’m more than pleased and happy for her. The final result could be a little disappointing, but the expectations were hopefully to get to the finals and she did it, and then it’s pot luck. She gave it her best effort. That’s for sure.”
Chatt won her first six matches all in straight sets, including 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals over No. 1 seed Wheaton Warrenville South junior Keisha Clousing. Chatt defeated No. 5-8 Grayslake North senior Kelly Poggensee-Wei 6-0, 7-5 in the quarterfinals and No. 9-16 Glenbrook South sophomore Caroline Ryba 6-2, 6-0 in the final 16.
Chatt’s only other loss this season was in three sets at the conference meet to Hinsdale Central sophomore Alex Solovyev, and Chatt avenged that with a three-set victory in the Hinsdale Central Sectional final. Solovyev finished third in state after losing to Boone 7-5, 6-2 in the semifinals, and Poggensee-Wei finished sixth.
One big difference from Chatt’s extensive experience from offseason USTA tournaments is that there are no age divisions. Saturday marked the first time Chatt played Clousing or Poggensee-Wei in a singles match. In August, Chatt and Clousing reached the final 16 of Girls 16 Doubles at the USTA National Championships in San Diego.
“We’re pretty good friends. It was a big win for me, especially since she was the No. 1 seed, just a mental confidence booster, too,” Chatt said. “Winning both of those matches gave me a lot of confidence playing in the final. I’m proud of myself even to make it to the finals.”
After earning a state berth for LT in 2010 with a top-four sectional finish, Chatt defaulted during her sectional semifinals match with Solovyev, playing it safe with hopes of returning for state.
Instead, the long and sometimes painful road back to her high performance level was just beginning. Not until March did Chatt think that she felt “100 percent physically.”
“I never really could take time off. I kind of played with the injury at the same time. The offseason USTA tournaments are really important at that point,” Chatt said.
“After getting healthy, I’ve just been training a lot harder. I’ve trimmed down a little bit to help my hips. I’m a lot more fit than I was before and I can withstand matches with more endurance.”
The conditioning certainly helped with this year’s tournament when bad weather delayed the start of Thursday’s first day and resulted in the cancellation of the backdraw, resulting in a one-and-done format. Entries that lost in Saturday’s quarterfinals did get to play for the final two individual medals for fifth and sixth place.
The condensed format magnified Chatt’s success in the team results. Her victories alone gave the Lions 12 points and an eighth-place tie with six other teams. Senior singles qualifier Katie Miller, LT’s other state qualifier, lost her one official match.
Chatt and the other finalists played three matches both Friday and Saturday. That especially speaks to the fortitude of Boone, who needed three sets to prevail in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals after losing that first set 6-1. She won both final sets 6-0. Boone then had to dispatch the consistent, hustling baseliner Solovyev in the semifinals.
Those players got a glimpse of how Chatt felt after her strong performance just missed capturing the final.
“Alex didn’t close it out and had a couple of opportunities to do that. She’ll get another shot. She’s got two more years,” Wham said. “It’s going to take a while to get over it because it’s a hurtful loss. When you have opportunities and you’re up, that’s what you practice and train for and that’s what you’ve got to do. It’s nothing to dwell on. She’ll build on it, if she’s smart, which is what I think she’ll get out of it.”
“It’s definitely going to be a turning point in my tennis career,” she said.
Miller, who waited roughly 4 1/2 hours until her match was played at Palatine High School, received a tough draw and lost to No. 9-16 seed Lake Forest sophomore Elizabeth Zordani 6-0, 6-1. Zordani reached the final 16 before losing to Boone 6-4, 6-7 (9), 6-0.
Despite her wait, Miller also played Moline senior Maggie Helms and lost in two sets in the backdraw before it was cancelled and the match became void.
“(State) was definitely an amazing experience because I never thought, especially the way my season was going, I would have the chance,” said Miller, who spent most of the season playing doubles.
“It was my senior year so I was really thankful just to have the opportunity. The weather definitely made things very interesting. It was still definitely an experience and not what I expected but still really fun.”
Top 10 teams: 1. Hinsdale Central 39, 2. New Trier 28, 3. Stevenson 21, 4. Deerfield 18, 5. Morgan Park Academy, Homewood-Flossmoor and Wheaton Warrenville South 16, 8T. LT, York, Nazareth Academy, Lake Forest, Carmel and Glenbrook North 12
No. 3-4 seed Alex Chatt: Beat Kelsey Shipman (Olney East Richland) 6-0, 6-1; beat Emily Stefancic (West Aurora) 7-5, 6-1; beat No. 17-32 Maria Avgerinos (York) 6-1, 6-1; beat No. 9-16 Caroline Ryba (Glenbrook South) 6-2, 6-0; beat No. 5-8 Kelly Poggensee-Wei (Grayslake North) 6-0, 7-5; beat No. 1 Keisha Clousing (Wheaton Warrenville South) 6-3, 6-3; lost to No. 2 Jerricka Boone (Morgan Park Academy) 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 (2nd place)
Katie Miller: Lost to No. 9-16 Elizabeth Zordani (Lake Forest) 6-0, 6-1
The Lyons Township football team is headed to the Class 8A state playoffs for the third year in a row and ninth time in the past 10 seasons.
The Lions (5-4), the No. 13 seed in their half of the 32-team bracket, visit No. 4 Bartlett (7-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The winner will play No. 5 Glenbrook South (7-2) or No. 12 New Trier (6-3). Should the Lions win, they would play host to Glenbrook South and visit New Trier.
LT is among five West Suburban Conference Silver Division teams in the playoffs. The Lions beat playoff teams Stevenson and York and averaged 25.4 points in its victories and lost to playoff qualifiers Glenbard West, Downers Grove South, Hinsdale Central and Proviso West, allowing at least 28 points in each loss.
Bartlett is in the playoffs for the second year in a row and 11th time over the past 12 season, winning the Upstate Eight Conference’s River Division with a 6-0 record with their only losses to Wheaton North (26-24 Aug. 26) and undefeated Batavia (35-13 Sept. 16). The Hawks averaged 41.6 points in their victories, four over teams with winning records, and shut out all four non-playoffs teams.
The 2010 Lions reached the state quarterfinals and finished 10-2 to set a single-season program record for victories. Last year, the Hawks lost to eventual state champion Maine South 36-12 in the second round.
The Lyons Township girls and boys cross country teams will try to return to the Class 3A state meet as teams at the Lockport Sectional Saturday (Oct. 29) at Dellwood Park.
The girls race is at 11 a.m. and the boys race is at 11:45 a.m. Both teams need top-five sectional finishes to qualify for state Nov. 5 at Peoria’s Detweiller Park.
In the final regular-season DyeStat Illinois Class 3A state poll, the LT girls were No. 16 and the LT boys were No. 24 and among the highest-ranked teams in their sectional field.
The LT girls, going for their 13th consecutive state trip most likely will contend with No. 8 Downers Grove South and No. 13 Lockport for the sectional title. No. 21 Downers Grove North and No. 22 Marist also are ranked.
The LT boys, trying for their fourth state berth in a row and 12th over the past 13 seasons, have No. 3 and state title contender Neuqua Valley in their race but only two other ranked teams in No. 13 Sandburg and No. 14 Hinsdale Central.
On Saturday, the LT girls (35 points) won their second regional title in the past three years, and the LT boys were fourth (68).
LT senior Lisa Gordon (17:44.46 for 3.0 miles) took second in the girls race to Hinsdale Central junior Jill Hardies (17:30.33), second at state in 2010. LT senior Alex Daemicke (18:04.84) and junior Haley Prokaski (18:12.97) were fifth and sixth, followed by sophomore Lexy Rudofski (8th, 18:30.33) and juniors Randie Speir (14th, 18:50.94), MaryClare Flaherty (19th, 19:06.77) and Rachel Walsh (22nd, 19:21.10).
Walsh was the Lions’ top finisher in the junior varsity race at the conference meet Oct. 15. Team alternates are seniors Juliet Lusson, Tess Saibert and Kim Sipek, sophomore Katie Heinz and freshman Katie Hamor.
In the boys race, LT sophomore James Ryan (15:47.33) and junior Dan Lupano (15:47.95) were ninth and 10th, followed by juniors Jonathan Dombro (14th, 15:56.56) and Liam Callahan (17th, 16:08.67), senior Ben Groya (18th, 16:09.21), junior Zach Carlson (23rd, 16:18.78) and senior Mark Lefevour (24th, 16:20.14).
Not competing at regionals were junior Michael Matusiak, the lone returnee from the 2010 state lineup, sophomore Ed McCarter, and senior Grant Smith, the team’s No. 1-2-3 varsity finishers at the conference meet, as well as junior and No. 6 team finisher Ryan Speir, but they are part of the 12-runner postseason roster and can rejoin the lineup. Junior Mike Accettura also is a team alternate.
Callahan, Carlson and Lefevour were the Lions’ No. 1-2-3 finishers in the conference’s junior varsity race.
Girls swimming and diving
The Lyons Township girls swimming and diving team will compete at the West Suburban Conference Silver Division Meet at Downers Grove North.
Swimming begins at 1 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 29). The diving starts at 5 p.m. Friday.
The overall Silver standings are a 50-50 combination of dual and Silver Meet results. The varsity finished second in duals to Hinsdale Central with a 5-1 record.
In their final two conference duals, the Lions defeated Glenbard West/South co-op 127-56 Oct. 20 and Downers Grove North 106-79 Oct. 18.
The LT junior varsity defeated Glenbard West/South co-op 147-22 and Downers North 129-45 and the LT frosh-soph defeated Downers North 142-41.
LT varsity results
LT 127, Glenbard West/South co-op 56
LT event winners
200-yard medley relay: Louisa Hoffman, Elizabeth Murphy, Kristine Rosenberger, Elly Vitek 1:53.98
200 free: Lauren Rosenberger 2:00.82
50 free: Hoffman 25.38
Diving: Kelly Ryser 167.20
100 butterfly: Jennifer Weigand 1:01.14
100 free: Hoffman 55.78
200 free relay: K. Rosenberger, Lizzy Kosin, Hoffman, Weigand 1:41.92
100 backstroke: Vitek 1:02.46
400 free relay: Weigand, Kosin, K. Rosenberger, Vitek 3:42.87
LT 106, Downers Grove North 79
LT event winners
200-yard medley relay: Louisa Hoffman, Maddie Naughton, Kristine Rosenberger, Jennifer Weigand 1:55.54
200 freestyle: Elly Vitek 1:59.30
500 free: Weigand 5:10.73
100 breaststroke: Naughton 1:12.77