Henning and Heydari lead Wolves to title

Prairie Ridge’s Brad Henning (left) and Bij Heydari celebrate a point during the Fox Valley Conference No. 1 doubles finals match Saturday at Crystal Lake Central.
Prairie Ridge’s Brad Henning (left) and Bij Heydari celebrate a point during the Fox Valley Conference No. 1 doubles finals match Saturday at Crystal Lake Central.

CRYSTAL LAKE – Prairie Ridge’s Brad Henning and Bij Heydari erased some bad memories Saturday at the Fox Valley Conference boys tennis tournament at Crystal Lake Central.

The Wolves’ pair won the No. 1 doubles title and helped Prairie Ridge to a team championship with 102 points. Jacobs was second with 97 points followed by McHenry (82) and Cary-Grove (80).

In the doubles championship match, Henning and Heydari defeated Jacobs’ Brandon Sidor and Kingsley Bernardo, 6-1, 6-4. Henning and Heydari got to the finals with a, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, win against McHenry’s Dennis Quitalig and Nick Higgin in the semifinals.

During the season, Henning and Heydari had lost to both those teams, with the loss to Jacobs, where they only won one game, being especially painful.

“They were embarrassed,” Wolves coach Naveed Heydari said of his team’s earlier loss to Sidor and Bernardo. “They had revenge on their mind.”  

Despite the previous lopsided loss, Bij Heydari said they entered the finals encouraged by the win against McHenry.

“I think this time we had confidence,” he said. “It was nice to get another shot at it.”

That confidence was buoyed when Sidor and Bernardo had some unforced errors early in the match.

“We got a lead at the beginning and used that momentum the rest of the match,” Henning said.

The match was also important from a team perspective with Prairie Ridge and Jacobs battling for the team title. It was the Wolves’ consistency that was the difference, taking three firsts, two seconds, a third and a fifth place finish.  

“We were both thinking this is for our team,” Bij Heydari said. “All of them did their part.”

Hampshire’s Elisha Hougland also had redemption on his mind in the No. 1 singles championship match against Jacobs Kailash Panchapakesan. Hougland had lost in straight sets to Panchapakesan during the season.

The title match was a marathon with Hougland winning 6-4, 5-7, 7-5. Hougland said he was a little discouraged needing to go three sets after winning the first, but knew he had to press on.

“I was tired,” Hougland said. “I’m going to put all my energy into this set.”

Hougland said he was a lot more consistent in this match and had a stronger serve.

“My serve was doing a lot better,” Hougland said. “I think that’s what clinched it.”

The win also was important looking ahead to sectionals next weekend where Hougland should get one of the top seeds at the Elgin Sectional.      

“It’s a big help,” Whip-Purs coach Jon Betts said. “Having a win like this will give us a better chance for a 1-2 seed.”

Also winning championships for Prairie Ridge were Jack Lamar and Danny Van Bosch at No. 2 doubles and Mitch Mohr and Ross Carpenter at No. 4 doubles.

Jacobs won three titles – Kendrick Chong at No. 2 singles, Riley Rowan at No. 3 singles and Kyle Powell and Matt Toomire at No. 3 doubles.

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