CARY – Just like it did at the Fox Valley Conference Tournament on Tuesday, Prairie Ridge's boys tennis team dominated the Cary-Grove Sectional and qualified all six of its players for state.
With a first- and second-place finish in doubles and a second and third in singles, the Wolves won the team title with 33 points. Crystal Lake South was second with 18 points, followed by Crystal Lake Central (16) and McHenry (13).
The top four place winners in singles and doubles qualify for state beginning Thursday at sites across the northwest suburbs.
It was an all-Wolves double final as Matt Cox and Danny VanBosch, the No. 1 team, bested teammates Matt Altman and Garrett Locher, 5-7, 6-1, 7-5. Cox said the match didn't have as much tension as a normal championship.
"I think it really helped playing someone from our team," Cox said. "There was no nervousness."
After Locher and Altman won the first set, VanBosch said they just needed to relax, get back to playing their game and forget who they were playing.
"We weren't going to let them get a win that easily," VanBosch said. "We were already qualified for state, so let's go out and have some fun."
Wolves coach Jim Benson couldn't really pull for either team and refrained from coaching much. What he did want is a close match and nothing that could ruin the team chemistry that was built up over the year with an FVC Valley Division title and two tournament championships this week.
"It's cool to see them play each other, but I don't like separating that team feeling," Benson said.
What most impressed Benson was that his players never gave up on individual points or in matches.
"In each match they fought so hard," Benson said. "I don't have any quitters. They will play to the death for a win."
Crystal Lake Central junior Josh Pudlo won the singles championship, defeating Prairie Ridge's Ryan Kohl, 6-0, 6-3. Pudlo returned after qualifying for state as a freshman before taking last season off with an arm injury.
"It's nice to be back," Pudlo said. "It was tough to take the year off."
Pudlo doesn't look to have lost any of his game and continues to pound opponents with his forehand and get to the net to win points. Most importantly he's feeling healthy again.
"I'm in good shape right now, physically," Pudlo said. "The arm feels fine."
Also for the Wolves, Hayden Dzurisin took third, defeating Marian Central's Charles Shin, 6-0, 6-1, in the third-place match.
Shin, a senior, qualified with a 2-6, 7-5, 7-5, win against Crystal Lake South's Nick Thome in the quarterfinals.
"It felt like every point and set was split," Shin said. "I think I made a few less errors."
Shin said he has been working on specific aspects of his game every offseason since his freshman year.
"That was always the goal," Shin said of qualifying for state. "It kind of came all together [Saturday].
In the third-place doubles match, McHenry's Nick HIggin and Jake Maher defeated South's Joe Baietto and Kyle Devlin, 6-2, 6-3.