Two familiar faces will be absent from the men’s open singles draw at this summer’s McHenry County Tennis Classic.
Sam Sweeney, a 2006 Prairie Ridge graduate and former Wolves varsity tennis coach who has won eight consecutive singles titles, and his opponent for each of the past eight finals, Racket Club pro John Cincola, will not be appearing at the tournament this year.
“It’s sad because it was a dynamic aspect of our tournament,” tournament director Rob Laue said of their annual finals appearance at the Classic. “But it’s also exciting that this year we will have a new winner.”
Another Prairie Ridge grad, Craig Greenwald, received this year’s top seed in the men’s open bracket after being seeded behind Sweeney and Cincola for several years. After a successful high school career, the 2010 NJCAA Region IV Player of the Year won more than 30 matches in his two years at McHenry County College.
Sweeney’s and Cincola’s absences are not the only form of change this summer.
The tournament will add a parent/child doubles division. It allows any combination of gender to compete together.
“This division is supposed to be a fun, highly social draw and not quite as competitive,” Laue said.
Unlike years past, the entire tournament will be played at The Racket Club in Algonquin, which Laue said provides more convenience for both the players and spectators. It was something the local high school sites could not fully provide.
“Now that [the tournament] is at one site, families who had kids playing at multiple sites will now be able to observe multiple matches at once,” Laue said. “We are excited because our facilities also offer more comfort, plus rain is no longer an issue.”
Matches will be played on the hard courts both outside and inside, but Laue hopes to have most of the matches played outdoors.
In all, 175 players had signed up for this year’s tournament as of Wednesday, down from 190 in 2013, although Laue anticipated numerous last-minute registrations for regular and mixed doubles competition.
Notable participants in this weekend’s singles brackets include Greenwald and the Northwest Herald 2014 Boys Tennis Player of the Year, Jacobs’ Kailash Panchapakesan in the men’s open, the 2014 Fox Valley Conference No. 2 singles champion, Prairie Ridge’s Hayden Dzurisin in the boys 18 bracket and last year’s men’s 35 champion, Robert Fishman, who is competing in the men’s 20 division.
Singles matches begin at noon Friday for all junior divisions and 6 p.m. for all adult divisions, and end with championship and consolation finals Sunday. Mixed doubles will be July 18 to 20, and regular doubles runs July 25 to 27.