After winning the Fox Valley Conference tournament this past spring, Prairie Ridge’s Jared Priesz and Garrett Locher were not surprised to see a few of their fellow teammates excel at the McHenry County Classic.
Priesz, 17, and Locher, 16, were two of five Wolves varsity members that reached Saturday’s quarterfinal round of the Boys’ 18 singles bracket at The Racket Club in Algonquin.
Also appearing in the quarterfinals from Prairie Ridge were Hayden Dzurisin, Aaditya Rawal and Gil Anozie. All five will be returning to compete for the Wolves next season.
“It’s good to see because it shows our team has been improving, even in the offseason,” Locher said.
Two of the three matches played pitted one Prairie Ridge teammate versus another. Anozie squared off against Rawal, while Priesz faced Locher, the No. 2 seed.
Although it can be fun to play against a teammate, the competitive nature of the game trumps all friendship once a player steps onto the court.
“It’s not that hard [playing against teammates],” Priesz said. “Once you get in the zone, it doesn’t really matter that you know them personally. They’re still an opponent.”
Locher echoed Priesz’s sentiments.
“I can think a lot about it before the match, but once I get out [on the court], I don’t care anymore and just play my best,” Locher added. “You still want to go as far as you can because it’s a personal, not a team tournament.”
After Locher won a tight first set, 7-5, Priesz battled back from a 5-2 deficit in the second set and forced a tiebreak, which he eventually won, 7-6 (5). Instead of playing a traditional third set, the two played a 10-point tiebreak to determine a winner. Locher prevailed, 10-7, advancing to the semifinals against Crystal Lake South’s Nick Thome, who won his quarterfinal match by default.
Rawal, this spring’s Fox Valley Conference champion at No. 3 singles, was upset by Anozie, 6-2, 6-1, who was able to match Rawal’s slower pace step-by step. Even though Anozie wasn’t a part of the Wolves’ starting lineup last season, Priesz wasn’t surprised of the outcome.
“Gil was an exhibition player and he’s playing in the semi-finals,” Priesz said. “[Our depth] shows that they can hang in there with the best of them.”
Anozie will play Dzurisin, the No. 1 seed, who defeated Christopher Winkler of Lake Barrington in the first quarterfinals match, 6-0, 6-0.
Both semi-final matches will be played Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at The Racket Club.