OPRF is No. 3 and darned proud of it

Tennis team combines efforts for third in state

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By MARTY FARMER

Recently crowned 2010 boys' tennis state champion New Trier (43 points) and runner-up Hinsdale Central (42 points) have combined for 38 state titles. So it's understandable if the Oak Park and River Forest High School tennis team had their sights set on taking third-place at the state finals hosted by Hersey on Saturday. The Huskies accomplished their goal with 28 points edging Highland Park (27 points).

"We were hoping to get to third because New Trier and Hinsdale Central are the cream of the crop," OPRF coach John Morlidge said. "It was really a magical state tournament for us."

Much of the Huskies magic stemmed from their No.1 doubles team of Alex Gebert and Jake Wilson. The talented tandem defeated Sam Bloom and Krishna Ravella of Hinsdale Central 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 in an intense final match of the tournament. The clutch victory carried all kinds of implications, clinching the state title for New Trier, and sole possession of third place overall along with a fifth place/doubles consolation bracket championship for OPRF.

"Those Hinsdale Central kids are highly-ranked players who are used to playing in raucous environments like that match," Morlidge said. "My guys played solid and stuck with the strategy which was to pick on [Krishna] Ravella."

The Huskies' No. 1 singles player Devin Jones also turned in a superb effort at the state finals. Jones won five of seven matches and was eliminated 6-4, 7-6 (2) by Tim Kopinski (Stagg) in the fourth round of the championship bracket. Robert Stineman (New Trier) defeated Kopinski 6-1, 7-6 (5) for the singles championship.

"Devin won three matches on Thursday, including a gritty three-set win [6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5) over Kyle Dawson of St. Francis]," Morlidge said. "He really played some of his best tennis at state."

While OPRF didn't place as a championship bracket semifinalist in the singles or doubles competitions, contributions from their top players Jones and the tandem of Gebert-Wilson coupled with strong efforts from No. 2 singles Luke Trinka (two wins) and No. 2 doubles Tim McAdam and Eric Bruynseels generated valuable points for OPRF. The Huskies singles players tallied 11 points, while their two doubles teams contributed 17 points.

"They really had a lot of camaraderie all season," Morlidge said. "The guys worked out together and were committed to the team. Our team felt really proud to represent our school so well at state."

With the exception of Gebert, who will play club tennis at the University of Illinois next year, the Huskies (12-2 in match play this season) return all five of their other top players.

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