Last season was special for Fenwick High School’s girls tennis team. Not only did Lily Brecknock become the IHSA Class 1A state champion in singles, the first in program history, but the Friars also won their first team championship.
This season as a result of the IHSA’s “success factor,” Fenwick, which was third in Class 1A in 2021, will move up to 2A for the state tournament. But with Brecknock, now a junior, along with seven other returnees, the Friars feel ready to take on the increased competition.
“We’re stronger, more calm and confident than last year,” said Fenwick coach Gerard Sullivan, who has overseen the program since the school turned co-ed in 1992.
Besides Brecknock, junior Megan Trifilo (4th) and senior Trinity Hardin (9th) finished in the top 10 in Class 1A last season. They’re currently the Friars’ top singles players.
Trifilo had a particularly strong showing at the Hinsdale Central quad tournament Sept. 9, which also included Chicago University High and Lyons Township. She played #1 singles and went undefeated for the day, defeating Paola Almeda of U-High (3-6, 7-5, 10-7), Mia Batenic of Hinsdale Central (6-3, 6-2), and Abby Sullivan of Lyons Township (6-2, 6-1) in the finals.
As a team, Fenwick defeated U-High 4-1, getting doubles wins from the duos of Caroline Gruber/Emma Louderback, Mae Mae McDonnell/Marin Jancewicz, and Elle Karls/Maddie Cheronis. But the Friars fell to Hinsdale Central 4-1 and Lyons Township 4-1 to drop their record to 7-3.
Fenwick has had success in its tournaments so far, winning the Fremd and Niles North-West invitationals and placing second at the 32-team Jacobs Invitational. But Sullivan feels this week’s York Invitational will be the Friars’ toughest with several top schools participating.
Fenwick is a perennial title contender in the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference and expects to battle Loyola Academy for this year’s crown.
“Loyola is much stronger this year,” Sullivan said. “We beat them at Jacobs, but both teams were missing a key player. They will give us a strong challenge at the top of our conference. We need to keep building our strength and confidence.”
Oak Park and River Forest High is off to a solid 6-3 start and came away encouraged after its match on Sept. 5 against Hinsdale Central.
Despite losing 6-2 to the Red Devils, a perennial state power, the Huskies’ top two singles players, freshman Lucy Stein and Maeve Marzec, won their matches.
“It’s a promising year,” said OPRF coach Fred Galluzzo. “We have a lot of talent, and as we wait for the younger kids to develop, we’re swinging a pretty good bat. Getting two points off of Hinsdale was good for us.”
Marzec, a junior, was an IHSA state qualifier in doubles last year along with the now-graduated Martha Brennan. This year, she’s off to a 9-0 start individually.
Sophomore Maria Clara Lau is OPRF’s #3 singles player. She narrowly missed qualifying for last year’s state tournament, losing to Lizzie Isayanov of York in the sectional quarterfinals. Junior Anika Gupta also lost in the sectional quarterfinals.
Other contributors for the Huskies are freshman Ava Lebovitz; juniors Josie Badrinath, Alice Caldwell, Marin Chambers, Sophia Lynn, Baylee Piasecki, and Sophie Welch; and seniors Julia Leonard, Kathryn Meister, and Kate Wallace.
“We’re still in an early stage of experimentation, trying to figure out where we’re going to go with our [doubles] combos,” Galluzzo said. “Our first doubles team [Gupta and Meister] did a credible job against Hinsdale Central.”
A scheduling highlight for OPRF is the annual quad, which takes place Sept. 30 on campus. Neighboring Fenwick will be among the schools participating.
“Ever since we got our courts back last year, I’ve been trying to beef up the home schedule,” Galluzzo said. “Fenwick is solid, Buffalo Grove has a couple of good players, and Highland Park is coming. This quad is going to be powerful.”
It stands to reason that Hinsdale Central should be considered the favorite in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, but Galluzzo feels the Red Devils could have a serious challenger or two.
“Hinsdale is the favorite each year, but Glenbard West has a high-quality doubles team and will likely challenge for at least second. If they can find another doubles group, they can give Hinsdale a run,” he said. “Lyons Township is always a possibility, you don’t know what they’ve got — there are high-quality players there who sit out and they have a new coach. And York’s two singles players are always going to do damage at state.