Girls Tennis: Naperville Central’s Tiffany Chen completes solid season

Story Image Tiffany Chen of Naperville Central during her quarterfinal match against Elizabeth Zordani of Lake Forest at the IHSA Girls Tennis Championships on Saturday October 20, 2012 in Buffalo Grove. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

Updated: October 30, 2012 9:22PM

The local player who made everyone sit up and take notice at the recently completed state tennis tournament was Tiffany Chen, the Naperville Central freshman who mowed down three highly-seeded opponents on the way to a fourth-place finish in the tournament.

Chen, who was seeded 17-32 counted top-seeded Caroline Ryba of Glenbrook South among her victims when she won their fourth-round match.

“Everything fell into place that weekend,” said Naperville Central coach Don Bonet. “Tiffany hit her stride just at the right point of the season. She matched up well with the other top players she faced.”

Chen’s achievement and the work of doubles Cass Goldner and Cindy Liu combined to give the Redhawks a seventh-place finish in the team standings. Goldner and Liu, who were unseeded, finished 17-24 with a pair of main draw wins and two more in the back draw.

And all three girls will return next year, along with Meaghan Bedigian and Sara Furukawa from the Redhawks’ sectional championship team.

“We expect Tiffany to be bigger, stronger and better next year,” said Bonet. “As a freshman she’s as mentally strong as anyone out there. Cass and Cindy also have high goals for next year”

Benet, which finished just outside the top twenty, was led by doubles Mary Beth King and Daniela Reyes, who finished 17-24, and singles Leah Tzakis, who finished 25-32

“We had our struggles at the beginning of the season,” said Benet coach Bob Comerford. “But we played our best tennis at the end.”

With King and Reyes graduating, next year’s Redwings will be led by Tzakis and her sister Coco, who had a great freshman singles season. Doubles Shea Gallagher and Maggie Wilhelm, who will be seniors, were both undefeated and conference champions with other partners. And they’re potential state qualifiers as a team.

“That’s a pretty good core of four players,” said Comerford, who coached the Redwings to their ninth straight conference title this year.

Naperville North, 24th in the team standings, was paced by veteran doubles Kamile Stadalankaite, a senior, and sophomore Abbie Boswell, who finished 17-24 with four wins in the tournament.

“Kamile is a great athlete and her partnership with Abbie has given her more confidence and she’s thinking of playing in college,” said Naperville North coach Heather Henricksen. “Abbie is an unbelievable competitor. She has the ability to switch gears at crucial times in the match. The girls were great all weekend, which is remarkable because on Friday they had to wait almost six hours to get on the court because of the weather.”

Senior state qualifiers Kayla Maxson and Tiffany Oken, who have been the model of consistency as partners the past three years, put together a pair of victories at state.

Next year’s team will be built around Boswell, who could play singles or doubles. Other Huskies who should make and impact again next year are Julia Li, Jessica Hu and Madhura Patil.

“This was our year with a strong senior class that won conference,” said Henricksen. “I’m really proud of this group. It will be a challenge next year because Central is loaded.”

Metea Valley will lose Kelsey Chin, their first-singles and a state qualifier for the past three years. At state, Chin lost in the first round of the main draw and then stayed active in the backdraw with five victories and finished in the top 24.

“It was great to see Kelsey’s growth as a tennis player and the influence her work ethic has had on the team,” said Metea Valley coach Karly Olson. “She has all the shots. Her ability to come into the net gives her a multi-dimensional game that can stymie opponents.”

Trying to pick up some of the slack next year will be a couple of returnees from the Mustangs strong doubles lineup, Tyler Proszowski and Kaitlyn Hammerly, as well as the versatile veterans Emily Dixon and Delaney Earley.

Waubonsie Valley’s state doubles entry of Anna Reimers and Amanda Glavin came away with one victory at state.

“The girls were great during the season and in the tournament,” said coach Phil Galow. “But we rarely saw both of them hit the top of their game at the same time.”

While Reimers is at the head of a strong Warriors senior class, Glavin returns next year with a solid group of returners including Gennifer Taylor, Saaya Nath, Riya Sanjay, Serena Upadhay and Archana Upadhay.

“We had eight girls in the 20-plus win category,” said Galow. “So we’d have to say this was a successful year. But we have a promising nucleus coming back.”

For the second year in a row, Neuqua Valley didn’t get anyone through the brutal Naperville North Sectional to qualify for state, but there was still plenty of positives for the Wildcats this year, as they came away with their 12th straight conference title and a record of 19-4.

“In another sectional we would have been fine,” said Neuqua coach Trudy Bennorth. “Teams we beat all season were sending people to state left and right. It’s a little frustrating, but that’s life.”

Conference singles champs Jen Cha and Amy McNeel and first singles Anusha Pai present Bennorth with a powerful singles lineup next year.

Taylor Hersey was part of the conference title-winning first doubles team and she’ll be joined on the doubles roster by Riti Vohra, who missed most of the season with an injury, Katie Beshilas, and Akshita Pillal.

“We’re looking for steady improvement from everyone and some of our people to that next step to qualify for state,” said Bennorth.

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