The Lyons Township boys tennis team enjoyed a solid showing at the state tournament, and the best should be yet to come.
The Lions (18 points) finished 10th at the state tournament May 24-26 based at Hersey High School after qualifying both singles and doubles entries.
Junior Jake Elliott and freshman Alex Ross both finished among the top 16 in the 128-player singles draw with 4-2 overall records in the double-elimination format with two victories in the championship bracket. In doubles, senior Connor Wasz and sophomore Jack Wennerstrum were top-24 finishers with a 4-2 record and one victory in the championship bracket, and senior Bobby Burke and junior Chris O’Reilly were 1-2.
With four underclassmen, the Lions had their first top-10 state finish since 2007. They tied for 15th in 2011.
“If these guys play any over the summer and winter, we’ll be tough, especially with the experience,” LT coach Bill Wham said. “Going into next year, it’s not a rebuilding year. Hopefully next year we’ll capitalize on our experience and hopefully come out with some good scores and good wins.”
Elliott was making his third state trip but first in singles, and Wasz qualified last year in singles. Elliott, who was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, compiled an 18-10 singles record.
Elliott and Ross (13-8) both were No. 17-32 seeds in singles and suffered their first losses to higher-seeded players in the third round of the championship bracket.
Marian Catholic senior Julian Childers, a No. 3-4 seed who defeated Ross 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 32, reached the championship match and lost to Deerfield senior and top-seed Jason Brown 6-1, 6-2. Lake Forest sophomore Peter Tarwid, who eliminated Elliott, finished sixth, and Naperville North senior Gordon Zhang and Lake Forest sophomore Scott Christian, who also defeated Elliott and Ross, respectively, finished among the final 12.
The past two seasons, Elliott played doubles at state with 2011 graduate Danny Schuster, finishing among the top 16 both times. Could Elliott and Ross be a doubles team at state in 2013?
“(Elliott and Ross) could play singles again and get a bunch of points (at state), and I think they’ll be even better, or I could throw them into doubles and try to win it all. That’s another opportunity and that’s realistic,” Wham said.
The unseeded Wasz and Wennerstrum (9-3) lost in the second round and won three matches in the backdraw. Burke and Reilly (10-6) lost their opening match to Edwardsville seniors Justin Leskera and Cameron Randall, a No. 9-16 seed who went on to finish fourth.
The Lions had a 14-2 regular-season dual record and finished third in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division behind eventual state team champion Hinsdale Central and Oak Park-River Forest, which tied for fifth.
Top-four finishers in singles and doubles at sectionals qualify for state. LT finished second to Hinsdale Central at the LT Sectional May 18-19 and placed third and fourth at both spots. In the third-place matches, Elliott defeated Ross 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7) and Wasz and Wannerstrum defeated Burke and O’Reilly 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
In Silver action, the Lions lost to Hinsdale Central 7-0 and OPRF 4-3 and entered the Silver tournament just one point behind the Huskies. Elliott and Ross, however, did not play at the conference tournament. Elliott, a standout football placekicker, was at a national kicking contest and Ross was playing in a national tennis tournament.
Freshman Cuyler Burke (No. 3 singles), senior Tom Schroder and junior Matt Pesch (No. 3 doubles) and junior Alex Ritter-Jenkins and sophomore Kevin Kokaska (No. 4 doubles) all reached the championship match in their brackets and finished second to Hinsdale Central.
Lyons Township results
Jake Elliott (No. 17-32 seed): Beat Nick Urban (Lemont) 6-7 (0), 6-0, 6-1, beat Victur Raghuraman (Chatham Glenwood) 6-0, 6-3, lost to No. 9-16 Gordon Zhang (Naperville North) 6-4, 6-4, beat Matt Bisbee (Marist) 6-2, 6-1, beat No. 17-32 Ismail Kadyrov (Vernon Hills) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, lost to No. 9-16 Peter Tarwid (Lake Forest) 6-4, 6-3
Alex Ross (No. 17-32 seed): Beat Blaine Hrovat (Oswego East) 7-6, 6-2, beat Matt Papke (Rockford Guilford) 6-2, 7-5, lost to No. 3-4 Julian Childers (Marian Catholic) 6-2, 6-3, beat Will Sauser (Glenbrook North) 7-6 (3), 6-1, beat Matt Hirsch (Glenbard West) 6-2, 6-3, lost to No. 17-32 Scott Christian (Lake Forest) 6-3, 6-2
Connor Wasz-Jack Wennerstrum: Beat Richard Henning-Dalton Hart (Moline) 6-4, 6-1, lost to No. 9-16 Quinn Vaughn-Christoph Goettler (Metamora) 7-5, 6-1, beat Daniel Rowley-Shawn DePauw (Geneseo) 6-2, 6-1, beat Michael Anderson-Derrick Lee (Latin) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, beat Christian Hamilton-Lucas Birk (Belleville East) 3-6, 6-0, 6-1, lost to Bobby Martin-Matt Rurka (Benet Academy) 6-0, 6-2
Bobby Burke-Chris O’Reilly: Lost to No. 9-16 Justin Leskera-Cameron Randall (Edwardsville) 6-2, 6-2, beat Francis Manzano-Aayush Patel (South Elgin) 6-1, 6-1, lost to Jack Warning-Andi Kosova (Neuqua Valley) 6-3, 6-2
Lyons Township boys volleyball
The Lyons Township boys volleyball team faced some midseason adversity and responded.
The Lions made some lineup changes and finished with a 22-13 record and second in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division with a 5-1 record.
On April 24, the Lions were 10-7 after losing at Silver champion Glenbard West in two sets, their third straight defeat.
“The fact that we went into the 20-win column shows we found what to do to be successful,” LT coach Joann Pyritz said. “We had some growing pains and suffered through some inconsistency. We worked on some consistency pieces, and we helped ourselves considerably.”
The Lions, the No. 13 seed in the Wheaton Warrenville South Sectional, lost to No. 4 Waubonsie Valley 25-17, 25-19 in the Hinsdale Central Regional semifinals May 22 after defeating No. 20 Illinois Math and Science Academy 25-11, 25-7 May 21. Sectional champion Wheaton South went on to capture the state title Saturday.
LT seniors Jason Dolinski, Kevin McMahon and Jack Murphy were named to the All-WSC Silver Team. They and the rest of the senior group (Michael Barrett, Daniel Dorsano, John Peterson and Andrew Rowley) earned All-WSC Senior Academic Team honors.
Murphy, a 6-foot libero, also was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player. Murphy set the program’s single-season record for digs with 422 and also had 433 service receptions and 23 service aces.
Dolinsnki, a 6-6 middle and outside hitter, had 159 kills, 40 solo blocks, 27 aces, 66 digs and 26 service receptions. McMahon, a 6-4 outside hitter, had 178 kills, 102 digs, 94 service receptions, 24 solo blocks and 14 aces.
Murphy, Dolinski and Peterson were the only seniors with the most varsity experience as juniors. Peterson was voted by his teammates at recipient of the Team Player Award. The 6-1 Peterson was primarily a defensive specialist who also was a setter early in the season.
“(Peterson) made a great contribution to the game skill-wise and contributed in that he was a tremendously positive player. He was a great role player and model for the younger players,” Pyritz said.
The Lions switched from a two-setter offense to one setter with 6-4 sophomore Marko Kostich moving into that role from being an outside and right-side hitter.
Other contributions came from Rowley, Dorsano and juniors Aidan Spangler and Gabe Fisher as middle hitters, junior Clayton Smentek and Mike Pajkos as outside hitters and Barrett, juniors Kyle Smuda and Dom Faust and sophomore Michael Dean as defensive specialists.
Dorsano was starting before getting injured in midseason. Smentek came on strong and started at outside hitter at the of the season. Spangler played considerably as a sub against Waubonsie Valley. Also seeing action in that match was Dean, the MVP of LT’s junior varsity team who was a late promotion to varsity.
LT opened the season by finishing third at the Conant Tournament with a 3-1 record and also finished fourth at the Downers Grove South and Richards invitationals and 10th at the Lincoln-Way Invite. McMahon and Dolinski earned all-tournament honors at Richards and Lincoln-Way, respectively.