By Marty Farmer
There are no regrets for Taylor Arends and Tess Trinka, only bittersweet feelings after Oak Park and River Forest High School's No. 1 doubles team fell one victory shy of capturing a girls tennis state championship at Buffalo Grove over the weekend.
Stevenson's Kendall Kirsch and Alexxis Kiven defeated Arends and Trinka 6-4, 6-2 in Saturday's doubles championship match. Kirsch/Kiven swept the Huskies' top tandem in three meetings this season.
"We both shed a few tears after the [championship] match not because of the loss but because we knew it would be our last high school match together," Arends said. "I'm going to Tess [a senior] more than I can imagine. She was the perfect partner for me and the best friend I could ask for."
Trinka echoed similar sentiments about her junior partner, who will shift back to singles next fall at OPRF.
"I'm glad we ended on such a high note, but I'm also very sad the season is over, because I loved every minute of it," Trinka said. "We accomplished our goal of doing better than last year [Arends/Trinka finished sixth at the 2012 state tournament] so I am very happy about that. I know Taylor will do great things next year as well."
Over the past two seasons, Arends and Trinka went 55-9 and garnered sixth-place and state runner-up finishes. This year, the team won six straight matches in dominant fashion before falling to their nemeses, Kirsch and Kiven in the finals. Ability, chemistry and communication all clicked to power the best friends' stellar two-year run.
"I think we're a pretty aggressive double team," Arends said. "We try to take things off the net and not let opportunities pass us by. We also have very good communication. There's no hesitancy to talk about what we need to do on the court to be more effective."
Trinka also cited how both players' high-quality groundstrokes enabled them to prolong rallies and eventually go for winners.
In terms of chemistry, the connection shared between Arends and Trinka essentially runs between the families. Arends' parents, Dan and Sue, played college tennis at Wisconsin and Iowa State, while Trinka's parents, Mark and Bernadette, honed their tennis skills at James Madison and Boston College.
Siblings D.J. Arends, John Arends, Luke Trinka (currently a Division III All-American player at Bowdoin College), Maya Trinka and Mark Trinka all enjoy tennis as well. D.J. and Luke are former OPRF tennis stars, while Maya plays on the Huskies' junior varsity team.
"Since I was little, tennis has always been a family event for us," Trinka said. "My whole family would go out and hit some balls, and my parents would teach us how to swing a tennis racquet. My dad and Taylor's dad used to play against each other in high school."
When Dan Arends starred in tennis at OPRF, he would often play his rival Mark Trinka from Riverside-Brookfield High School. Their daughters joined forces as Huskies, excelling not only on the tennis court but all around campus.
"Taylor and Tess are great kids and a pleasure to coach," said OPRF head coach Fred Galluzzo. "Taylor has a lot of ability and a high tennis IQ. Tess is a quiet leader who really knows her game and what she's capable of on the court. It's tough seeing her go."
As a senior, Trinka is intent on enjoying the home stretch of her high school career.
"It's a little weird to me that I'm a senior already, but it's been an awesome four years." she said. "Whether it's sports, academics, the arts or clubs, the opportunities at OPRF are incredible. It's an awesome place to attend high school. Playing tennis especially with Taylor has been my favorite part of the experience."
In the spring, Trinka will serve as a center-midfielder on the soccer team while Arends plays shortstop and third base for the Huskies' softball squad. A few pickup tennis matches between the best friends will likely fall into the fold as well.