Hampshire’s Elisha Hougland needed a little more than the reward of a steak at the boys tennis state tournament Thursday.
After losing in the opening round to No. 5-8 seed Stefano Tsorotiotis of Libertyville at Hoffman Estates, Hougland won three consecutive matches in the consolation bracket to advance to play Friday. He was the only area player to advance.
Hougland was promised a steak of his choosing at the Weber Grill Restaurant by his father if he made it to Friday but said making a change to his serve was the real reason he played well. An adjustment to his toss made Hougland more aggressive on his serve.
“I was getting really low with my legs and jumping through the serve,” Hougland said. “My serve is what got me to Friday.”
The improved serve gave Hougland a lot more confidence in the rest of his game and gave him a feeling of intensity throughout his matches.
“I used my serve to set up my forehand,” Hougland said. “I was being a lot more aggressive on returns. That would set up the rest of the points.”
Hougland will play Lemont's Nick Urban in the fourth consolation round Friday at Rolling Meadows.
Jacobs' Kailash Panchapakesan battled good competition and cramping legs to go 2-2 Thursday at Rolling Meadows. His tournament ended with a 6-2, 6-0 loss to 17-32 seed Jacob Edelchik of Highland Park in the consolation third round.
After winning his first match against Ottawa’s Luke Winchester, Panchapakesan had a grueling 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) loss to 9-16 seed Sebastien Lescoulie of Carbondale. It was during this match that the cramping started and lingered the rest of the day.
Panchapakesan said it was a mental battle as much as a physical one, because the cramping came and went and he was hesitant to play his normal game.
“It puts me in a position to not hit too hard or use my legs,” Panchapakesan said. “I had a lot of unforced errors.”
Golden Eagles coach Jon Betts said, even with the physical misfortune, he was impressed with Panchapakesan’s showing at state.
“Kailash has been battling all day,” Betts said. “He was right there with a top 16.”
While the day left many wondering where Panchapakesan might have done without the cramping, for him it was a learning experience to be in better shape for next season.
“Clearly fitness is an issue,” Panchapakesan said. “I can’t cramp up in the second match at state.”
Jacobs led area teams in points with six, followed by Prairie Ridge with four, McHenry and Hampshire (three), Crystal Lake Central and Dundee-Crown (two) and Crystal Lake South and Huntley (one).
Also for Jacobs, Riley Rowan and Matt Toomire won their first-round match in doubles, and Kendrick Chong won his first consolation-round match.
Prairie Ridge got a first-round win from Matt Cox and Danny VanBosch in doubles and consolation-round wins from Ryan Kohl in singles and Matt Altman and Garrett Locher in doubles.
Other first-round winners were Crystal Lake Central’s Josh Pudlo in singles and Dundee-Crown’s Brad Spangenberg and Chad Wagner in doubles. McHenry’s Nick Higgin and Jake Maher won a first-round and a consolation match in doubles.
Consolation-round winners in doubles were Huntley’s Jake Grabner and Matt Frederick and Crystal Lake South’s Joe Baietto and Kyle Devlin.
Prairie Ridge coach Jim Benson said getting to play at state is great experience for sophomore qualifiers Hayden Dzurisin and Locher. Benson said he is bringing his team back Friday to give them a taste of what the later rounds are like.
“I’m really glad that my sophomores got to experience it so young,” Benson said. “Hopefully, it will push them to that next level.”