Crystal Lake Central doubles team starts 3-0 at state
BUFFALO GROVE – Even as a No. 3-4 seed, Crystal Lake Central’s Evelyn Youel and Jillian Wallace knew they needed to accomplish a goal that had eluded them at the IHSA Girls Tennis State Tournament – win a third-round doubles match.
The Tigers’ pair had lost in the third round the previous two years.
Youel and Wallace accomplished their goal in convincing fashion Thursday, dropping just five games in winning their first three matches.
In the third round, they defeated Oswego East’s Alexis Blackmon and Leena Hwang, 6-1, 6-1. Blackmon and Hwang were not seeded but defeated a 17-32 seed from Gurnee Warren in the first round.
“That was really our first goal,” Youel said of getting through the third round. “Our next goal is to win the next one.”
The next one will be Friday against Maine South’s Kamila Czosnyka and Marti Wind in a fourth-round match. The winner advances to the quarterfinals.
Youel and Wallace, both seniors, have been doubles partners since they were freshmen. Knowing each other so well is a huge advantage in doubles.
“We have a lot more experience together than other teams,” Youel said.
“We just level each other out,” Wallace added.
Tigers coach Katie Lashbrook said Youel and Wallace didn’t give their opponents a chance to get any sort of momentum in the matches. Most of that was being strong mentally.
“They haven’t let anyone in,” Lashbrook said. “They focused.”
Lashbrook was especially happy with Youel and Wallace’s performance at the net.
“When they got to the net they usually got the point,” Lashbrook said. “And they were in a lot.”
Even with the lopsided wins, Youel and Wallace know that the level of competition is going to get much tougher.
“There’s still a lot of good teams out there,” Youel said.
Crystal Lake South’s Julia Thome in singles and Kelsey Laktash and Rachel Rasmussen in doubles advanced to play Friday in the consolation bracket.
Laktash and Rasmussen lost in the third round to Highland Park’s Nicole Berkman and Janine Cooper, a 5-8 seed.
Despite losing, Laktash and Rasmussen said it was the best tennis they had played all season.
“We played real well against [Highland Park],” Rasmussen said.
“We were on today. I wasn’t unhappy with anything,” Laktash said.
Thome, playing at Hoffman Estates, lost in the second round to Barrington’s Michelle Linden, a 9-16 seed, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4), but came back to win two in the back draw to advance to the fourth consolation round today.
In the second consolation round, Thome won but was feeling the effects of playing in her third match in frigid temperatures. It was a mental battle as much as a physical one.
“After two matches I got really tired in the wind and cold,” Thome said. “If you weren’t willing to push through the cold, you’d give up and want to go home.”
She came back after a 20-minute rest between rounds looking much more energized in her win against Tinley Park’s Haley Wilcox. Thome said she got a lift from supporters coming over from Buffalo Grove after Laktash and Rasmussen finished playing.
“It was nice having the whole team here cheering me on,” Thome said. “It made me want to win it more.”
Also advancing in the consolation round were Prairie Ridge’s Anna Kuechenberg and Mikaela McNally. They lost in the first round but came back to win three rounds in the back draw.
Area singles players were 6-0 in the first round. Also winning first-round matches were Prairie Ridge’s Callie Schmit and Natalie Favia, Jacobs’ Ashley Kosy, Hampshire’s Hannah Hougland and Woodstock’s Ana Fedmasu.
Hampshire’s Monica Patthana and Julie Schreiner also won their first-round doubles match.