H-F’s entire squad back for another state runHomewood-Flossmoor's No. 1 Singles Adey Osabuohien chases down a shot against Bowlingbrook's Nneka Onyehaka for the SouthWest Suburban Blue Conference Championship, Saturday, October 8th, 2011 in Flossmoor, IL l Gary Middendorf~for Sun-Times Media
A year ago at the state tennis tournament, Homewood-Flossmoor was far and away the top local squad, finishing in a tie for 10th.
Lockport was the next closest Southland competitor, another 27 spots back.
With their entire team returning, the Vikings expect to climb higher among the state’s elite at this year’s meet, which is being held Thursday through Saturday at 12 sites in the northwest suburbs.
“I have the expectations that we should crack the top five,” first-year coach Don Baron said. “If everything goes our way and we have the draw we should, we should be able to do that.”
Others in the area have reputations to enhance, as well.
Morgan Park Academy’s Jerricka Boone (23-0), who won the state singles title as a freshman and missed her sophomore season with a wrist injury, is seeded second as a junior.
Marian Catholic’s Gaby Rosales earned a 5-8 seed after stopping H-F’s Adesuwa Osabuohien in the sectional finals.
In her third trip to state, Osabuohien earned a 9-16 seed. All told, the Vikings have 19 state trips on their roster when adding in Dana Shannon (4), Colleen Kenney (4), Danielle Dixon (3), Faith Huckabee (3) and Allison Lessner (2).
Osabuohien’s fourth loss against 19 wins on the season marked the first time the junior failed to win a sectional title. Rosales beat her in three sets on a windy day.
“There are some things that go beyond tennis that you have to work on for the tournament,” Baron said. “We worked on how to handle the weather after sectionals.
“One thing I’ve learned about Adesuwa’s game is that she comes back after facing adversity and not necessarily playing her best tennis.”
Shannon has won four sectional championships at doubles with three different partners in her high school career and has five wins in her three years at the state tournament. Shannon and Dixon take a 16-3 record at No. 1 doubles and a 17-32 seed into the tournament.
In her final season, Shannon is hoping to do something special.
“I think the team can make top five or higher,” Shannon said. “I want to end my career feeling like I accomplished something I hadn’t done before.”
Considering she’s won four sectional championships and helped H-F extend its team streak of sectional wins to 27, there’s only one thing left to do.
“I want to win the state championship at doubles,” Shannon said.
With Huckabee (24-3) seeded 17-32 at singles, and Kenney and Lessner (26-6) at doubles chipping in wins, H-F could be the first area team to bring back a state trophy since the Vikings brought home third place in 1994.
Meanwhile, Marian’s Rosales, though she stands only 5 feet, should not be overlooked. Just a sophomore, Rosales beat a 9-16 seed in the first round and fell in three sets to a 17-32 seed in the third round last year, becoming the first Marian player in a decade to survive the second round.
“I’m more mature than last year,” Rosales said. “I’m not as impulsive and more patient.”