Athletes of the Week
Sidor and Bernardo likely will enter the Fox Valley Conference Tournament beginning Friday as the top seed at No. 1 doubles. The Golden Eagles’ pair are 22-4, undefeated in the FVC and have won their past 10 matches.
FVC divisions: Prairie Ridge locked up the FVC Valley Division title Monday with a 6-1 win against Cary-Grove to give them 37 points and a 6-0 record. Jacobs has 30 points with one match remaining against Crystal Lake South on Wednesday. Even if the Golden Eagles tie the Wolves in points, Prairie Ridge would win on the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Prairie Ridge defeated Jacobs, 4-3, earlier this season.
Grayslake Central went 6-0 to win the Fox Division with 33 points.
FVC Tournament: Prairie Ridge coach Naveed Heydari is hoping his team is not too satisfied heading into the FVC Tournament after winning the division title.
“We feel like we accomplished a nice goal and we can go into the conference tournament with nothing to lose,” Heydari said. “It’s so fulfilling to win [the division title] as a team. I think it takes off the pressure.”
One thing concerning Heydari is that his team thrives on being cheerleaders for each other. Playing at different sites for the tournament will not allow the Wolves to rally behind teammates in close matches.
“That’s a disadvantage for us,” Heydari said of being separated. “We won that Jacobs match because we were louder than them.”
Jacobs coach Jim Benson was not happy about being edged out of the division championship by the Wolves and needed a senior leader to refocus his attitude.
Bernardo told his coach, “let it go Benson,” after Benson was venting about losing the division.
“That’s what I’ve done, and it’s time to focus on our next goal, winning the conference tournament,” Benson said.
The Golden Eagles also should get the top seed at No. 1 singles, where freshman Kailash Panchapakesan is undefeated in conference play. Jacobs fields a tough freshmen singles lineup with Panchapakesan, Kendrick Chong at No. 2 and Riley Rowan (No. 3) having a combined 35-1 FVC record.
Benson is taking a pragmatic approach to the FVC Tournament and knows exactly what that will take to win.
“We will take it one point at a time at every spot, with 24 points needed to win a set, 48 to win a match, 192 to win the tournament, and seven positions in the tournament,” Benson said. “We have 1,344 points to win, and that will be our mentality.”
This week’s top meet
at District 155 schools,
noon Friday; 9 a.m. Saturday
With the division races decided, the 14 teams vie for the overall conference championship.
– Rob Smith