Athlete of the Week
Crystal Lake South, sr.
Thome went 3-0 Saturday to win the Cary-Grove Invitational. On Sept. 26 she won a big match against Prairie Ridge to help the Gators remain undefeated in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division.
On the Upswing: There haven’t been very many team wins for Woodstock North in the Fox Valley Conference since it began varsity competition in 2009. After Tuesday’s 4-3 win against McHenry on the Thunder’s home courts, that win total swelled to two.
Woodstock North’s first FVC win was Aug. 31, 2010, when it beat cross-town rival Woodstock, 5-2. Tuesday’s win was the Thunder’s first against an FVC Valley school.
While the wins haven’t been there, the improvement has. Thunder coach Mike Buehler said his team is getting more and more competitive. Even the losses are getting closer – Huntley and Woodstock both edged the Thunder, 4-3, this season.
Buehler credits the improvement of his players, none of whom had played competitive tennis before high school, to fundamentals. He is teaching them a system and style of play that emphasizes not beating themselves.
“It’s forcing opponents to take low percentage shots for winners,” Buehler said. “We’re not giving them any easy shots.”
Buehler is especially pleased with the progression of his doubles teams.
“We finally found some combinations in doubles where our girls are starting to gel,” Buehler said. “Early on there was a lot of confusion. Now they’re working as a team.”
Against McHenry, Cally Maire won at No. 3 singles in three sets after dropping the first set, 6-1. In doubles, Kellie Smith and Kasia Mucha at No. 1 doubles, Anna Gabrielson and Lulu Nicks at No. 2 and Sara Keesee and Kelsey Parlogean at No. 3 doubles all won.
“Our girls were really playing smart,” Buehler said. “They were getting inspired.”
The Thunder will graduate its top three singles players in Sierra Meiners, Sadie LeFever and Maire, but will bring back a majority of its doubles players. Keesee and Parlogean are juniors, Mucha, Gabrielson and Allie Lavin are sophomores and Nicks is a freshman.
“You’re seeing there is a trend starting to happen,” Buehler said. “The girls are starting to get competitive.”
This week’s top meets
Crystal Lake Central
at Hampshire, Tuesday, 4 p.m.
The Tigers and Whip-Purs will play for the FVC Fox Division title in a big division dual.
One last weekend of multiteam events before the post-season tournaments begin Oct. 11 with the FVC Meet. Crystal Lake South hosts Marian Central at its invitational, Prairie Ridge is at the Wheaton Warrenville South Tournament, Crystal Lake Central plays at the Naperville North Invitational, Huntley is at the Glenbard East Quadrangular and Jacobs is at the York Quad.
– Rob Smith