Boys Tennis: Backup plan works for Naperville Central
Updated: April 17, 2012 8:10PM
Naperville Central’s first-singles Sid Swamy, a returning state qualifier, has been on the sidelines since the beginning of the season with a sprained knee.
And while Swamy is expected back soon, the Redhawks (7-3) have missed him in the early going.
However, his absence has created some opportunities for people who usually play further down the lineup.
Senior Ian Braun has taken the bulk of the work at first singles with doubles star Danny Albert filling in at times.
But the big news has been the play of junior Vishwas Jena who has been playing mostly at second singles on weekends, moving up from last year when he played fourth singles on junior varsity. So far, he sports a record of 4-1.
Jena’s recent victory over a good player from Fenwick helped the Redhawks to the championship of the Rolling Meadows Invitational on April 7.
“Vishwas has been helping out right across the singles lineup,” said Naperville Central coach Dan Brown. “He’s one of the more pleasant surprises this year. He’s grown a little and he’s more consistent and he does a great job of moving the opponents around. Each time he goes out there he looks better and better. Typically, you’re not looking for a fourth-singles JV player to make the jump to varsity. But, he’s earned his way into that spot.”
Brown said that with the squad at full strength Jena could be slotted at fourth singles in conference.
Doubles team sheds singles mentality
By winning last week’s first-doubles championship at the Naperville North Invitational, Abhi Singh and Deep Chatterjee of Waubonsie Valley may have solidified their hold on the top doubles spot.
“They still show a lot of signs of being two singles players in a doubles match,” said Waubonsie Valley coach Phil Galow. “This weekend was good because you could see them starting to think as doubles players. Abhi is the more talented tennis player, but Deep is more advanced in developing the doubles mentality. He’s more aggressive going to the net and he’s reading the game very well.”
Mike Cioffi, who was battling those two for a spot at the top of the doubles lineup, may wind up playing second doubles, pairing with either Kameron Yagoobi or Brendan Franklin.
“We still haven’t decided who will play where,” said Galow. “But Mike and Kameron finished third last weekend and they looked good. Mike is more advanced at doubles, but Kameron is a sophomore and he’s starting to get the concept. But Brendan has a good forehand and his serve is more consistent.”
Galow hasn’t closed the book on the possibility of Cioffi moving to number one doubles.
“These are nice problems to have at this point in the season,” said Galow. “These are all good tennis players and they’re extremely hard workers. Whichever player doesn’t squeeze into the top two doubles will probably join Carey Theodourou at singles. Those six should make up our sectional team.”
Huskies doubles teams show improvement
As expected Gordon Zhang, a three-time state-qualifier, has gotten off to a fast start for Naperville North and he’s again regarded as one of the top singles players in the state.
But coach Heather Henricksen also has high praise for her first two doubles duos who are vital in the Huskies’ quest to unseat rival Naperville Central as champions of the DuPage Valley Conference.
“Steve Nguyen and Lee Charles are at the top of their game and they could qualify for state,” said Henricksen.
“Our number two doubles team of senior Yusuke Asai and junior Steve Schrage played first doubles for the first few matches of the season, which included a victory over Glenbard West. They really looked good. It’s the first time they’ve played together and they’re making great progress as a team. There’s nothing like moving up a spot and having success to strengthen your confidence.”
Neuqua’s top singles players help junior
Neuqua Valley’s first two singles players will both be playing Division I tennis next year.
First singles Michael Baiocchi has committed to Valparaiso and second singles Tim Worley will be attending Western Illinois.
Naveen Krishnan, a fast developing junior, who won the third-singles title at the Naperville North Invite last weekend, credits seniors Biaocchi and Worley with helping speed his development this year.
“Having them ahead of me in the lineup has been great for me,” said Krishnan. “I get to learn from them in practice, in competition and by watching them. And they’ve both been very generous about helping me. I’m hoping to move into one of the first two singles positions next year.”