SCHAUMBURG – Glenbard West and Conant pulled away from the field Saturday at the Class 2A Schaumburg tennis sectional.
And in the finals, the Hilltoppers pulled away from the Cougars.
Glenbard West defeated Conant in both the championship doubles match and the third-place doubles match, and the Hilltoppers’ top singles player Shannele Lopez also won a sectional championship to lead the Hilltoppers to the title, their fourth in the last five years.
The only year in that span Glenbard West did not win came last year when St. Charles East edged the Hilltoppers by a point.
“We were consistent and confident,” Glenbard West senior first doubles player Emma Chirila said. “I’m very proud of all of them.”
Glenbard West won the sectional with 29 points, Conant scored 22 and nobody else had more than Lake Park’s 14.
Chirila teamed with Elizabeth Fausey for a 6-4, 6-3 win over Conant’s Riya Jain and Simren Mahajan in the doubles title match. The two are a relatively new combination, finishing the year at 6-0 after Fausey moved into the top pairing following an injury to Chirila’s previous partner.
The Hilltoppers took early leads in both sets, 3-0 in the first and 5-2 in the second, for a cushion that helped when Conant tried to come back.
“We work to our strengths,” Fausey said. “She’s really good at poaching so we try to maximize her poaching. We tried to hit the ball out wide and make our serves.”
“Elizabeth is very good at hitting good returns,” Chirila said.
In the third-place doubles match, Glenbard West’s Lauren Deebs and Norah Chirila defeated Conant’s sister team of Nirali and Anjali Patel, 6-4, 6-3.
In past years all four of those doubles teams would have qualified for state. This year the state tournament is not happening because of COVID-19.
“Even though there is no state tournament we congratulated them all on qualifying for state,” Conant coach Matt Marks said. “We treated it the exact same way. You could tell the excitement playing in the first place match and third place match.”
Marks was proud of the way Jain and Mahajan competed against a talented Glenbard West duo.
“I thought they played outstanding,” Marks said. “They showed up and made me proud. Some competitive points, some great points overall. Overall as a team we had a successful season and ended it on a high note.”
One of the best matches of the day came in the singles championship. Elk Grove’s Peyton Oda upset No. 2 seed Analisa Cruz from Lake Park, 6-3, 6-4, in the semifinals.
Oda credited her play at the net with the win.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and come to the net,” Oda said. “She hit a lot of lobs and I tried to sneak in and work on my volleys and it worked.”
That earned Oda a spot in the championship match against No. 1 seed Lopez, who had only lost one game in her first three sectional matches.
But it was Oda who jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening set.
“I was trying to focus on the cross court,” Oda said. “I was trying to hit the angles and hit behind her because she’s pretty fast. I was trying to be aggressive, hit deep.”
Lopez noticed that and turned up the attacking style on her side of the net, which led to several high-level rallies with the two players slugging it out.
Lopez eventually settled in to pull out a 7-6 (2) victory in the opening set and a 6-1 win in the second for the sectional championship.
“I was struggling there,” Lopez said of the start. “I don’t think my mind was on the court yet for some reason. As the first set went on I just tried to stay focused, work on my breathing because I was getting a little mad out there. She was playing a lot more aggressive than I was. I think I had to make her run more and play a little more offense.”
Oda also finished second at last year’s sectional.
“I’m really happy,” Oda said. “I knew Shanelle was going to be a tough competitor. On paper she’s a lot better than me.”