CARY – Kyle and Kevin Burton paired up only one time this season before entering the Class 2A Cary-Grove Boys Tennis Sectional. After a successful weekend, the brothers from Jacobs will get at least two more chances to play.
The Golden Eagles duo went 3-0 to reach the sectional championship on Saturday, falling to Barrington's top-seeded Dylan Er and Kyle Schuff in the final, 6-2, 6-3. The brothers still were all smiles, as the juniors qualified for next week's boys state tennis meet at Hersey High School.
Kyle is going for a third time, and Kevin is making his first trip. They came back to defeat Barrington's Suven Sinha and Aryan Sharma, 2-6, 7-5 (3), 6-4, in the semifinals to reach the final.
"I really wanted to go this year, so I knew playing with Kyle would be my best opportunity," Kevin Burton said. "I feel like I played surprisingly well. Even Kyle knows, usually I don't take the net, but I decided to take the net today. But Kyle played even better than me, and that's why we qualified."
"We had some experience before. When we were a lot younger we'd always play doubles," Kyle Burton said. "I think the goal this weekend was to try our best each match. Win or lose, it doesn't matter, just go out and have fun."
In another doubles semifinal, Cary-Grove’s Michael Ptaszek and Daniel Sowa fell, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1, to Er and Schuff. They bounced back with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Sinha and Sharam for third place.
Ptaszek, a senior, and Sowa, a sophomore, are making their first state appearance. They only recently started playing doubles together.
“I’m just happy that he became my partner at the end of the year, because I didn’t think I had a shot at going to state,” said Sowa, whose older sister, Katie, went to the girls state tournament in the fall. “It’s a great feeling.
“I look up to (Ptaszek) so much. I want to be better than him, because he’s so much better than me right now. He's always out there talking, telling me what I can do better, making me a better all-around player.”
Trojans coach Amanda Schuetzle was elated to see Ptaszek get his first opportunity at state.
“It’s a surreal experience,” Ptaszek said. “I’ve been playing this sport all my life, and for me to finally go, it’s a huge deal. I just want to leave it all out on the court at state and play my best tennis.”
Jacobs' Kerwin Chong and Crystal Lake Central's John Wallace both lost in their semifinals matches. Chong, who beat Wallace last week at the Fox Valley Conference Tournament, came out on top again, 6-3, 6-0, for third place.
Chong will make his fourth state appearance. He qualified with his brother, Kendrick Chong, in doubles as a freshman and sophomore. He advanced to state in singles last year for the first time.
“Four years is awesome,” Chong said. “It’s a humbling experience. The most important thing is to play like you’re the underdog. Take it one match at a time, or even one point at a time. It all comes down to who stays mentally tough.”
Wallace, a junior, will make his second state appearance. He also advanced as a freshman in doubles. Wallace said he was proud to make it out of a tough sectional that included a number of players with prior state experience.
“It just goes to show you, even if you’re in a difficult sectional, you can still go out and do it if you put in the work,” Wallace said. "My goal is to get to the second day of state."
Kyle and Kevin Burton
Jacobs, jrs., doubles
The Burton brothers reached the sectional championship, losing to Barrington, 6-2, 6-3. Kyle (pictured) is a state qualifier for the third time. Kevin is making his first trip.
4: Jacobs’ Kerwin Chong qualified for state for the fourth time.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Cary-Grove's Daniel Sowa, along with doubles' partner Michael Ptaszek, joins his sister, Katie, as a state qualifier. Katie Sowa qualified for the girls state meet in the fall.
Local state qualifiers
Kerwin Chong, Jacobs, singles
John Wallace, Crystal Lake Central, singles
Michael Ptaszek and Daniel Sowa, Cary-Grove, doubles
Kyle Burton and Kevin Burton, Jacobs, doubles