The Oak Park and River Forest and Fenwick high school girls tennis teams finished 10th and 18th, respectively, at the IHSA state tournament last year. While both teams lost some key contributors to graduation, plenty of talent returns for both the Huskies and Friars to strive for another strong showing this season.
Powered by state runner-up double teams Tess Trinka and Taylor Arends, the Huskies also won their own sectional last season, along with a fourth-place finish in the stacked West Suburban Conference Silver Division (third place in conference tourney) under coach Fred Galluzzo last season.
While the losses of Trinka and Jasmine Owens will be felt, Galluzzo enters his 16th season with the Huskies knowing Arends returns as a premier player both in singles and doubles. Anna Rossa, Audrey Angelos and Hanna Gibson are also back from last year’s sectional championship squad.
Aside from that core of experienced players, juniors Peyton Schafer, Maya Trinka and Sarah Kreider along with sophomore Maria Krunic are solid players. Seniors Laura Chicos, Kathleen Coogan, Anne Claire Cronin, Hope DeHaan, Alex Kagan and Alicja Seledec could also contribute this fall. Two promising freshmen, Carleigh Schafer and Alyssa Mandell, will vie for court time.
“Our depth is our best feature,” Galluzzo said. “We are talented and skilled throughout our lineup and we will be competitive in all our matchups. In the WSC Silver, we are all chasing Hinsdale Central. Lyons Township, York and Glenbard West will be very challenging.”
OPRF (8-2, 2-0 West Suburban Silver) is off a promising start this fall. Early results include a third-place finish at the Deerfield Invitational and OPRF also placed 11th out of 16 teams at the New Trier Invite.
The Huskies also edged Fenwick 4-3 in a non-conference dual match. In the feature match, the Friars’ Laura Gutierrez defeated Arends 7-6, 7-5. Although Fenwick won both singles matches and No.1 doubles, OPRF earned victories in doubles 2 thru 5.
Gutierrez-led Friars in search of more success
Like OPRF, Fenwick performed well in conference (third place, 7-2 record), in sectional play (second place behind the Huskies) and at state (18th place) last year.
Junior Laura Gutierrez (27-7 record in 2013), who finished among the Top 24 in the state singles competition last season, is poised for an even better campaign this fall. She moves beautifully around the court and is an offensive counter-puncher. Along with Gutierrez, the top end of the lineup includes senior Ana Sprajcer, who notched three wins in doubles at the state tournament, along with fellow seniors Maureen Grady and Rylee Brennan. These aforementioned players should help absorb the losses of excellent doubles players in Dana Balk, Tierney Vrdolyak and Rachel Heuel who graduated last school year.
A plethora of promising players will also be available for coach Gerard Sullivan. Junior Lindsey Sloan and sophomore Ceci Walsh, the top two singles players on last year’s sophomore squad, could see action in singles and doubles this fall. Juniors Kim Burda and Patty Napleton, who flourished as the Friars’ No. 1 doubles team at the sophomore level last season, also step up to varsity competition. Freshmen Haley Fakouri and Sophia Vlahos are expected to contribute as well.
“This is the most depth on our team we’ve seen in years,” Sulllivan said. “Seniors will lead our top two doubles and our younger players will provide a spark.
Led by Brienne Minor, Carmel is the conference favorite with Fenwick and Benet expected to contend.
Since 1992, the Friars have earned four Top 20 finishes at the state tournament and won conference twice.
“We’ll give conference our last, best shot,” Sullivan said. “We are not favored but we can make it close.”
Fenwick (5-3, 3-1) has already notched victories over Whitney Young, Hinsdale South and Benet this season.