Twice as nice for Stineman, New TrierNew Trier's Robert Stineman hits a forehand volley in his 6-2, 6-2 victory in the singles finals. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 28, 2011 7:19PM
They wore the same colors, but this was no gentlemen’s agreement.
In the first same-school singles final in more than two decades, New Trier senior Robert Stineman crowned a remarkable high school career by becoming the first repeat state champion in 25 years by defeating close friend and teammate Jared Hiltzik 6-2, 6-2 at Hersey Saturday afternoon.
Stineman finished 40-0 by beating Hiltzik in a singles championship for the second time in a week. The two became the first teammates to play for a state championship since West Aurora’s Paul Pridmore beat classmate Jim Panagopolous in 1990.
The singles stars powered the Trevians to their second consecutive state crown, and the 19th in the school’s illustrious history. Only Hinsdale Central has accumulated more state titles with 21. The results proved less a contest than a coronation. New Trier amassed a stunning 55 points, the second-highest team total behind its 2003 state champion that finished with 56.
Behind Jason Brown, who finished third in singles, Deerfield edged Oak Park-River Forest 36-35 for second place. Stevenson finished fourth with 32 points.
Former Deerfield star Mike Morrison, who won the last of his four consecutive titles in 1986, was among those standing courtside who congratulated the Stanford-bound Stineman.
“It’s an honor to be among the select group that’s won the Illinois state title more than once,” Stineman said.
Hiltzik captured the first six points. Once Stineman settled in, he asserted his authority by ripping off five straight games. He capitalized on his scintillating serve-and-volley game by aggressively cutting off the court to force Hiltzik to hit difficult angles. He registered three aces and never double-faulted.
“The thing you have to know about Robert is that he knows how to win,” Hiltzik said. “He’s an animal at the net, and there’s not much you can do about his serve.”
Their alternate fortunes collided during the first set when a Stineman drop-shot hit the top of the net and bounced over for a critical point. Moments later, Hiltzik watched a backhand hit the same spot, only to draw towards him on his own side. “I mean, [I] never get one,” he frustratingly screamed out.
Stineman broke Hiltzik twice in both sets and by contrast never lost his serve. “My service game is something I’ve spent a lot of time working on,” Stineman said. He attributed his strong play at the net to his early career spent as a doubles player.
During the rare times the two faced off in practice, New Trier coach Tad Eckert stipulated specific rules or restrictions, only having one serve or only playing the baseline.
“When they play each other, they really battle,” Eckert said. “This is a tribute to how hard each has worked, especially Jared, because nobody predicted him playing for the state singles championship at the beginning of the year.
“As far Robert, he’s one of the all-time greats.”
In doubles, Stevenson’s top-seeded team of Ross Putterman and David Packowitz also completed a perfect run by easing past New Trier’s Drew Campbell and Tom Fawcett 6-2, 6-3. After finishing as state runner-ups during their freshman and sophomore years, the two seniors did not lose a set in going 35-0.
After New Trier broke Putterman on the first game of the second set, it marked the first time this year the two were down a break. They recovered by registering eight consecutive points.
“We wanted to control the tempo and be the aggressors,” Putterman said. Campbell and Fawcett stymied them at times by playing together on the baseline, a defensive oriented approach that occasioned long rallies.
“Even with the way they were playing, we wanted to impose our will on them and I think we were able to do that,” Packowitz said.
Deerfield’s Brown defeated Stagg’s Tim Kopinski in the third-place match. Highland Park’s Tyler Manci and Zach Brint beat Oak Park-River Forest’s Devin Jones and Luke Trinka in the third-place doubles match.