Boys Tennis: Doubles may be in the works for Maine South top singles DaleidenPark Ridge, 4/17/12
Maine South's Patrick Daleiden hits the forehand shot during his singles match against Niles North's Dave Bacalla at Maine South April 17. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun Times Media
This year’s CSL includes six tennis players who finished in the top-24 at the 2011 state tournament.
The league — with reigning state champion New Trier at the top — is the most talented boys tennis circuit in the state. To rate among the conference’s top singles players requires superior skill and, in all likelihood, being one of the best players in the Midwest
But for a tennis player like Patrick Daleiden, a senior who has been Maine South’s top singles this season, being a No. 1 player in the CSL requires the right mental attitude and the ability to accept an opponents’ superiority.
“Patrick’s a pretty well-balanced kid, emotionally and competitively,” Maine South coach Greg Young said. “He likes to play good competition and he understands the difference between being beaten and losing. It’s one thing to get beat, it’s one thing to lose. He does pretty well with understanding that.”
Before matches against high-quality players like Niles North’s Dave Bacalla and New Trier’s Jared Hiltzik, the No. 1 boys tennis player in the state, Daleiden needs to redefine his expectations.
“I usually walk into a match knowing that I’m going to win,” said Daleiden, after falling 6-1, 6-0 to Bacalla on April 17. “But going against him, just in practice, I could tell that the chances are not very likely that I was going to beat him because he’s that great. I didn’t feel down and out at any point. I won a few points here and there, missed a few critical points, but I was glad to get 30-40, deuce games against him.”
In addition to dealing with the sheer skill of the CSL’s best, Daleiden has found that one of the most difficult things is simulating the quality of his opponents.
It’s difficult, as the No. 1 player on a team, to practice against someone who can emulate their power and precision.
“It’s very hard to simulate playing those kind of guys because they’re all unique in their own ways,” Daleiden said. “Not a lot of coaches still have the power and energy to hit like they do, but I guess I’ve got to try to simulate it the best that I can and hope for the best.”
As the postseason draws closer, qualifying for state becomes the dominant topic among tennis teams. It’s Daleiden’s primary goal, yet will be difficult to accomplish.
Maine South plays in the New Trier Sectional, which, like usual, is loaded. New Trier, the two-time defending state champion, is likely to qualify two doubles teams and two singles players. That leaves the rest of the sectional to battle for the two remaining spots in both singles and doubles.
Since the singles field will be so tough — Bacalla will likely be the Nos. 2 or 3 seed — Young will talk to Daleiden and No. 2 singles player Dragan Trivanovic before the postseason begins and present them an option.
“The way I’ve run the team over the last many years is that I will talk to those players because they’ve earned the opportunity to tell me what they want to do,” Young said. “I think they could have a shot, maybe, at doubles. Singles is going to be awfully hard.
“We’ll probably put them in some doubles on the weekend and let them see. They enjoy playing together. They get along well. They’re well suited to play together. So if we feel like they have a shot to qualify, I think we’d go that route. But I’ll let them ultimately make that decision.”