CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake South needed two three-set wins to defeat Cary-Grove, 4-3, on Thursday in a Fox Valley Conference Valley Division dual.
Kyle Devlin and Joe Baietto won for the Gators at No. 1 doubles beating Kevin Budreck and Brandon Butler, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. At No. 3 singles, South’s Alex Sardjev outlasted Devin McDonough, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
Devlin and Baietto were up, 4-1 and 5-2, in the first set but could not hold the lead. In the second set, they also took a 4-1 lead and were determined to not let the lead slip away.
“It’s not happening again,” Baietto said he remembered thinking in the second set. “It was definitely frustrating.”
Devlin said the difference in the third set was winning more points at the net and holding their service games.
“We were going to the net more,” Devlin said. “I was confident in my serve.”
The Gators (2-1 FVC Valley) swept the singles with Nick Thome winning at No. 1 and Chad Randolph at No. 2.
Thome, a freshman, defeated Kevin Maas, 6-3. 6-4, but said the match was even closer than the score indicated.
“It went to deuce a lot, so it came down to single points,” Thome said.
The Gators have an inexperienced lineup this year with Devlin the only four-year varsity starter. Pulling out a close win was gratifying to Gators’ coach Don Nead who knew the Trojans would be a challenge because of their depth.
“It just felt really good that they were able to compete with (Cary-Grove),” Nead said. “It turned out to be an excellent high school match.”
C-G (1-2 FVC Valley) got wins from Mitch Kedzior and Kyle Venet at No. 2 doubles, Will Smith and A.J. Lamb at No. 3 doubles and Eric Shershen and Chris Cecchin at No. 4 doubles.
Trojans’ coach Amanda Schuetzle said Maas, a senior, made a commitment to play during the offseason for the first time. She said it has made a huge difference in his shots and his confidence.
“When [Maas] said he wanted to do something at the (Crystal Lake) Racket Club, I was ecstatic,” Schuetzle said.
Schuetzle said Maas has set some lofty goals that are achievable but very tough for someone who has not played year-round tennis until this year.
“[Maas] wants to qualify for state and he’s got a legitimate shot,” Schuetzle said. “He’s got a lot of catching up to do this season.”