Even more than the regular season, weather could have a big impact on the IHSA Boys Tennis State Finals beginning Thursday.
With rain predicted for Thursday, it will be tough to get in the scheduled three rounds in both the championship and consolation brackets.
If the tournament is forced to move indoors, the consolation bracket would likely be canceled. If history is any guide, however, the consolation bracket is pretty secure. Since at least 1997, the consolation bracket has been played in full.
Play begins Thursday at locations across the northwest suburbs, continues Friday with the championship matches Saturday.
Fourteen local players will play in their first state tournament. That group includes eight seniors and two freshmen. Overall, area teams qualified seven singles players and seven doubles teams by placing in the top four at the Cary-Grove and Elgin sectionals.
Playing both sides of the bracket is especially critical for Jacobs, which has two freshman singles qualifiers in Kailash Panchapakesan and Kendrick Chong. Golden Eagles coach Jim Benson said getting his young players as much state match experience as possible is important.
“It’s not looking good,” Benson said of the weather. “We need the back draw tomorrow. The tournament could be over a lot quicker than we want it to be.”
Jacobs enters the state tournament on a high after winning the team title at the Elgin Sectional. Benson said it was the first boys tennis sectional championship in school history.
The Eagles fed off the emotions of their No. 1 doubles team of Brandon Sidor and Kingley Bernardo, who won the doubles sectional title. Sidor is a first-time state qualifier.
Losing in the title match at the Fox Valley Conference Tournament fired up Bernardo and Sidor for sectionals, where they lost just six games in their four matches.
“I’ve never seen them that pumped up," Benson said. “[Sidor] was unstoppable; he was a freight train going down a mountain.”
At Cary-Grove, Marian Central’s Aaron Waters won the sectional singles title. The Wolves’ Bij Heydari and Brad Henning followed their FVC tournament win at No. 1 doubles with a sectional doubles title.
Waters will play Hampshire’s Elisha Hougland in the first round. Hougland took second at the Elgin Sectional. After reaching his goals of winning the Suburban Christian Conference and a sectional championship, Waters enters state with nothing to lose.
“I just hope to play my heart out,” Waters said. “I’ve got my goals for the season.”
• See first-round pairings for local players in Fine Print, page C5.