Naperville North looking strong
Updated: September 13, 2011 7:09PM
Naperville North coach Heather Henricksen had a strong feeling that junior Kamile Stadalninkaite and freshman Abbie Boswell would make a great doubles team and her prediction has been borne out by the success the two have had, thus far, this season.
“I knew off the bat they’d hit it off,” said Henricksen. “Their games complement each other so well, and they’ve developed a great friendship, which is so important for a good doubles team. They’re fearless, competitive and they’re really improving all the time on strategy.”
The coach points to an early season loss to Rolling Meadows in the Downers Grove South tournament as a turning point for Stadalninkaite as a doubles player.
The girls lost the first set 5-7 and then bounced back to win the second 6-0. Though they eventually lost, the match in a super tiebreaker, Henricksen saw something change in Stadalninkaite’s approach to the game that has led to her lasting improvement at doubles.
“Kamile had a fear of the outcome of a set or a match,” said Henricksen. “It became a mind thing. When she got close to the end of a set and she often struggled. Abbie’s not like that. She’s always positive so she’s great for Kamile on the court. During the losing first set against Rolling Meadows, I noticed the two talking a lot on the court and Kamile went on to play one of the best sets ever in the second set. She took her game to another level. She wasn’t playing not to lose any more. The lost in the tiebreaker was because they missed some shots. But we all knew something had changed.”
Henricksen said that Stadalninkaite told her after the loss that Rolling Meadows may not have been the best team on the court, but they were the smartest.
“They figured out how to beat us,” Stadalninkaite said.
“Rolling Meadows was doing everything to frustrate our girls,” said Henricksen. “They were lobbing, taking pace of the ball, and they had pinpoint placement. Kamile and Abbie realized it was all about strategy and they’ve been working on that and winning consistently since. Kamile has gotten over that fear.”
For a freshman, said Henricksen, Boswell, who is also a standout soccer player, has great poise and a strong personality.
“Kamile and Abbie are both so athletic,” said Henricksen. “They’re a great fit. We haven’t had this kind of doubles team in a while. And it’s because of that learning moment against Rolling Meadows.”
Metea Valley has gotten off to a meteoric 13-2 start under first-year coach Karly Olson.
“It has been a big surprise,” said Olson. “It’s been neat to see the the girls come together. Once we figured out where everyone would play, the girls accepted their roles and they’ve been improving in every match. The doubles teams have done a great job constructing points.”
Olson and her staff have been doing a lot of doubles work with singles players.
“It’s our philosophy that playing doubles is a benefit to singles players, especially with net play, closing out and finishing points.”
One real bright spot for the Mustangs has been junior second-singles Ana Wood, who stepped up in the team’s recent championship in the Lincoln-Way East Tournament.
“Ana has improved a lot since last year,” Olson said. “She’s a natural player and a fighter on the court, tough as nails. She’s been working on her net game and she’s coming in a lot more and closing points quicker. She’s not quite at the level of Kelsey Chin, our state qualifier, but she’s hitting with Kelsey much better than she used to.”
Naperville Central recently finished tied for first on points with Benet at the St. Charles East Invitational, though they lost to the Redwings in head-to-head battle.
Redhawks coach Don Bonet was impressed by the work of sophomore Sara Furukawa who won the second-singles championship in the tournament.
Furukawa, who plays third-singles in the Redhawks conference lineup, has really improved her game this year.
“She has always been very consistent,” Bonet said. “But she’s added more pace and more movement to the ball. And she’s playing with more confidence. Now she feels she can put the ball away instead of just outlasting opponents. That’s a radical change for a tennis player to make and Sara has achieved it. She along with Cindy Liu and Maria Mihailescu give us a strong singles lineup as we begin DVC play this week.”