By Marty Farmer
The No. 1 doubles teams in the boys and girls tennis programs at Oak Park and River Forest High School have produced positive results lately.
In 2013, the Huskies' top doubles team of Jeremy Dixon and Graham Lehman advanced all the way to the semifinals of the state tournament before losing to Hinsdale Central's Alex Hagermoser and Peter Henegan 6-4, 6-4. Dixon and Lehman are now playing college tennis at Southern Illinois and Lehigh, respectively.
On the girls' side, Tess Trinka and Taylor Arends concluded their partnership at No. 1 doubles in the state final during the fall. Stevenson's Kendall Kirsch and Alexxis Kiven defeated Trinka/Arends 6-4, 6-2 to claim the title. At OPRF, Trinka and Arends went 55-9 overall with a state runner-up and sixth-place finish over the past two years.
Boys head coach John Morlidge is tinkering with combinations of Jonah Philion, Jake Richards, Miles Blim and possibly even Christian Angelos at No. 1 doubles to replace the highly productive Dixon/Lehman pairing. Juniors Henry Belcaster and Joe Gullo add doubles depth for the Huskies.
"Jonah and Miles are both returning state players who are very good in doubles," Morlidge said. "Miles wanted to play some doubles this year, which is fine. He has a big serve and forehand. Jake Richards is another very strong doubles player. Obviously, we lost some talented players [from last season] in doubles, but I'm confident about this group."
In singles, Kyle Hahn is the Huskies' top player. He opened the season in auspicious fashion, winning the Rudy Witsman Invite at OPRF with three straight convincing wins. In the championship match, Hahn cruised past Loyola's Peter Horne 7-5, 6-2.
"Kyle is an experienced player who moves well," Morlidge said. "He has a big forehand and is an all-court player. We're working on getting him to play even more aggressively and come to the net a bit more because he volleys well. He's looking to play college tennis."
Senior Joe Charbel and sophomore Jacob Palley will see plenty of action at the other top singles spots.
OPRF placed third with 42 points behind champion Highland Park (93 points) and Barrington (57 points) at the Prospect/Hersey Invite on Saturday. Palley took second in No. 3 singles, while Angelos and Richards also garnered an impressive runner-up finish at No. 2 doubles losing to Dunn/Schneider of Highland Park 6-1, 6-4.
In dual matches this spring, the Huskies defeated Glenbrook South 7-3 and lost to 2013 state runner-up New Trier 8-1.
"We lost three three-set matches against New Trier," Morlidge said. "I was happy with our performance and thought we played them really strong. Our goal is to finish in the Top 10 at the state tournament."
While defending state champion Hinsdale Central is the prohibitive favorite to win the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, Lyons Township and OPRF are annually the other top teams in one of the premier conferences in the state.
The Huskies take on both Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township this week. OPRF hosts LTHS on Wednesday and Glenbard West on Thursday (both dual conference matches start at 4:30 p.m.). On Saturday, the Huskies travel to Hinsdale to take part in the Jay Kramer Invite with an 8:30 a.m. start time.