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Hinsdale Central tennis set for southern swing

Under former coach Jay Kramer, Hinsdale Central's boys tennis team regularly traveled to Florida in the past for spring break.

The team sought a warmer climate for practice and was not allowed to compete based on former IHSA rules.

But starting Friday, the Devils will enjoy a completely different experience to start spring break. Hinsdale Central will join three other Chicago area schools and will make their debut in the DecoTurf High School Team Championships, hosted by St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Ky.

The 16-team tournament features schools from as far away as North Carolina, Missouri and Alabama, using a college-style scoring method. The defending state runner-up Devils open the tournament at noon Friday against McDonogh (Md.).

On Friday, Deerfield opens against Knoxville Webb (Tenn), Highland Park takes on Barron Collier (Fla.) and defending state champion New Trier competes against Beacon (N.Y.). The tournament ends Sunday.

"I believe I've taken six trips to Europe and I've gone to Iowa with students. With the tennis team, I've gone to Florida, but not an event of this kind," said Hinsdale Central coach John Naisbitt, who is in his second season. "Travel brings us together. You get to bond as people and coaches alike. You forge stronger relationships."

Naisbitt said the team plans on taking a tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and perhaps the Muhammad Ali Center in the heavyweight champion's hometown. The Devils were invited to the tournament in the fall.

Naisbitt will be taking 12 players on the trip. The tournament format features competition in six singles and three doubles. One of the Devils' top players, Sam Bloom, competed in last year's state meet as a doubles player, but begins the season at No. 1 singles. Bloom finished sixth in the state meet with graduate Krishna Ravella. Another singles state qualifier, Rafe Mostick, returns this season.

Hinsdale Central's other singles players are Griffin Johns, Ronnie Lorenzini, Temi Adelakun and David Dulce.

The Devils graduated the state championship doubles team of Dan Ballantine and Ian Tesmond. Naisbitt said he feels he has another solid combination with No. 1 doubles Peter Heneghan and Alex Hagermoser. The other doubles teams are Chris Saltiel and John Klimkowski at No. 2 and Zach Wojtczak and Raveen Rathi at No. 3.

Hinsdale Central's first meet after spring break is a dual meet at Deerfield April 5.