ALGONQUIN – Thirteen years ago, Barry Wells took over a Huntley boys tennis team that struggled to find enough players for a dual match.
“We were lucky if we could get 11 kids to field a full team,” Wells said. “Now we have 11 quality character kids and quality players.”
Those 11 Red Raiders helped the program to its first Fox Valley Conference tournament title Saturday at The Racket Club. Huntley backed up its regular-season dual-meet title by winning the conference tournament with 55 points. Prairie Ridge (47) was second, and Jacobs (45) took third.
In the tournaments’ seven flights, Huntley had two first-place finishers, four runners-up and one third-place finisher. Freshman Thomas Patel took home a gold medal at No. 3 singles, while sophomore Drake Southwell and freshman Andrew Burkey were first at No. 4 doubles.
The Raiders have a number of underclassmen contributing to the starting lineup.
“All the young guys are really talented,” senior Jack Soderwall said. “Just being able to show them what it means to be a part of the team and seeing them grow into team players – vs. just keeping to themselves – is really great.”
Soderwall was a state qualifier last year in doubles. He and junior Julian Collins were second at No. 1 doubles Saturday, losing to Prairie Ridge’s Daniel Lamar and Patrick Nasta, 6-1, 6-1.
Lamar and Nasta won their second consecutive FVC doubles crown.
“It was one of the better matches we played, so far,” Nasta said. “Everything was working for us.”
Jacobs senior Kerwin Chong won his second straight FVC No. 1 singles title, defeating Crystal Lake Central’s John Wallace, 6-4, 6-3.
“I had all the strokes, but I needed to keep this in line,” Chong said, pointing to his head.
For Chong, the win was his fourth FVC tournament title. In addition to winning in singles the past two years, he won at No. 2 doubles and No. 1 doubles as a freshman and sophomore playing with his older brother, Kendrick Chong.
Kendrick Chong, who plays at Roosevelt University, sat courtside Saturday, supporting his brother.
“He’s always been there for me,” Kerwin Chong said. “It helps a lot. It’s good because my brother is also experienced, so he can teach me what I need to know.”
Other flight winners included Jacobs’ Kyle Burton at No. 2 singles. Prairie Ridge’s Ben Lingner and Devarsi Rawal won at No. 2 doubles. The Wolves’ Jakub Rugala and Jared Arkell won at No. 3 doubles.
STAR OF THE TOURNAMENT
Jacobs, Sr., Singles
Chong won his fourth Fox Valley Conference tournament title, and his second consecutive in the No. 1 singles flight. He also won at No. 2 doubles and No. 1 doubles as an underclassman.
56: Chong finishes his FVC career 56-0 over four years. He played doubles with his brother, Kendrick Chong, as a freshman and sophomore.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Prairie Ridge’s Daniel Lamar and Patrick Nasta won their second consecutive No. 1 doubles title. Huntley took home the team title for the first time.
Team standings: 1. Huntley 55, 2. Prairie Ridge 47, 3. Jacobs 45, 4. Cary-Grove 37, T5. Crystal Lake Central 29, T5. Hampshire 29, 7. Crystal Lake South 26, 8. Dundee-Crown 22, 9. McHenry 21.
No. 1 singles: Chong (Jac) def. Wallace (CLC), 6-4, 6-3.
No. 2 singles: Ky. Burton (Jac) def. Schee (Hunt), 6-2, 6-0.
No. 3 singles: Patel (Hunt) def. Palmer (CLS), 6-4, 6-1.
No. 1 doubles: Lamar/Nasta (PR) def. Collins/Soderwall (Hunt), 6-1, 6-1.
No. 2 doubles: Lingner/Rawal (PR) def. Adams/Michel (Hunt), 6-2, 6-1.
No. 3 doubles: Rugala/Arkell (PR) def. Parath/Saiz (Hunt), 6-2, 6-1.
No. 4 doubles: Southwell/Burkey (Hunt) def. Miller/Stanley (C-G), 1-6, 6-4, 12-10.
No. 1 singles: Desai (Hunt) def. Ptaszek (C-G), 6-4, 6-4.
No. 2 singles: Lasak (PR) def. Shah (D-C), 6-1, 6-0.
No. 3 singles: Wallin (CLC) def. Kim (PR), 6-4, 6-7, 10-3.
No. 1 doubles: A. Hougland/Snider (Hamp) def. Ke. Burton/Kaiser (Jac), 6-2, 6-3.
No. 2 doubles: Rands/ Te. Conneen (C-G) def. Schmidt/Dinh (Jac), 6-1, 4-6, 10-5.
No. 3 doubles: Enstrom/Price (C-G) def. Kastritis/Cannon (Jac), 6-0, 6-4.
No. 4 doubles: Hawkey/Milan (Hamp) def. Bielawski/Luy (Jac), 1-6, 6-1, 12-10.