SouthtownStar girls tennis previewHanover Park Il. 10/23/09 Girls State Tennis State Tennis Championship match between Deerfield's Julia Fellerhoff and Jerricka Boone of Morgan Park. Jerricka Boone (Joe Cyganowski/For STNG) game aciton of the championship matches in singles and doubles of girls state tennis tournament
(in alphabetical order)
Jerricka Boone, Morgan Park Academy: The last time Boone played high school tennis, she was celebrating a state championship in singles as a freshman. Returning from a wrist injury that held her out her entire sophomore season, Boone once again will look to build a name for herself.
Faith Huckabee, Homewood-Flossmoor: The junior, a 9-16 seed in doubles with partner Dana Shannon last season, was at the center of a coaching controversy at H-F in 2010 when her mother, Merle, called for the firing of coach Mike Sacks days before the state tournament. Sacks has left the girls team, with former assistant Don Baron taking over. If Shannon moves to singles, Huckabee not only will have a new coach but a new doubles partner.
Adesuwa Osabuohien, Homewood-Flossmoor: The junior went 25-3 in the regular season, winning a sectional championship at singles and earning a 5-8 seed for the state tournament. She fell in the fourth round of the championship bracket to eventual state runner-up Keisha Clousing, of Wheaton-Warrenville South.
Gabby Petrelli and Meredith Atkenson, Stagg: It’s impossible to list this Stagg doubles team separately. The two have won three straight sectional titles in high school. The duo unexpectedly was not seeded in the top 32 in the state tournament and fell in the first round of championship play, but won three matches in the consolation bracket.
Abigail Plecki and Kelsey Forkin, Lockport: Helping lead Lockport to a sectional championship, the doubles team of Plecki and Forkin got a win in both the championship and consolation brackets at state. This will be their third and final season together, because Plecki is a senior.
Gaby Rosales, Marian Catholic: Last season as a freshman, Rosales won her first two matches at state, including knocking off a 9-16 seed, before falling in the third round of championship play. Rosales added a win in the fourth round of the consolation bracket.
Dana Shannon, Homewood-Flossmoor: The senior has qualified for state in doubles three straight years. Last season, she and Huckabee went 26-4, winning a sectional championship and reaching the fourth round of the state tournament before losing to eventual state runners-up Haleigh McPeek and Elizabeth Zordani of Lake Forest.
It’s fitting that Morgan Park Academy’s top singles player, Jerricka Boone, will be flying under the radar in her junior season. Two years ago, she was an unknown from a tiny Southwest Side school who stunned the field and became just the sixth freshman to win the IHSA girls state tennis tournament.
Now she’s a junior coming back from a season missed because of wrist surgery.
“My wrist feels great, and I don’t feel any pain at all,” Boone said. “I’m just trying to get back in shape and ready to get out there and play.”
A year ago, as the only returning state semifinalist, she would have been the prohibitive favorite to not only repeat but move halfway to matching the feat of Hinsdale Central’s Elizabeth Lumpkin, the only four-time state singles champion since the state tournament began in 1972.
Surgery on her right wrist, however, sidelined Boone for six months. Now she’s just the fifth-ranked junior in Illinois, according to tennisrecruiting.net.
“Right now, I don’t care about rankings or winning or losing,” Boone said. “I just care about playing well. People have high expectations for me because of what I did freshman year, but I know how to handle pressure.”
Boone dropped the first set of her 2009 quarterfinal 6-0 to top-seeded Hannah Mar and came back. In the semifinals, she outlasted Melissa Kopinski in three sets.
“Probably one of the most beneficial attributes Jerricka has is being even-keeled,” Morgan Park Academy coach Carol Metzcus said. “I’ve never seen her get over the top or too far under. She really has an inner confidence that allows her to stay pretty steady.”
Actually, that part of her game needed some rehab. Boone didn’t begin hitting right-handed until January, and first competed in February. And it didn’t go well at times.
“I was losing in local tournaments to start, so my confidence was really low,” Boone said. “It’s still kind of low, but I’m getting there.”
Keisha Clousing of Wheaton-Warrenville South came close to following in Boone’s footsteps, falling in the state championship last year as a freshman. The fact that Boone has never lost to Clousing could be a vote of confidence if not for one catch.
“I haven’t played Keisha since I was 11,” Boone said.
Metzcus certainly has all the confidence in the world in Boone.
“She’s the highest level player we’ve had in many, many years,” Metzcus said. “She is the only one who I’ve ever seen come back from such an injury. Rather than looking into history of injuries like this, I’m counting on who Jerricka is as a person — and that is someone who is not afraid of hard work.”