It all went as planned for the top seeds Thursday afternoon when the first day of play at the boys state tennis tournament drew to a close.
Reigning state champion Hinsdale Central is atop the leaderboard over second place Fremd by five points (19) and 2022 state runner-up New Trier (18) with two others — Barrington (16) and Hersey (15) — close in the race for a top-three finish.
The Red Devils have all four of their teams alive in the front draw when play begins at 9 a.m. Friday at tourney host Palatine. Hinsdale’s 3-4 seeds Alex Kotarski (22-2) and the doubles team of Nathan Hernanez-Bodie Teuscher (18-1) both cruised to easy straight set victories in advance of the quarterfinals.
Five-8 seed Aiden Lam will get his chance to make his mark on this tournament when he faces top-seed Andrew Spurck (Fremd, 18-1) after the Waubonsie Valley senior claimed a trio of straight set wins on Thursday in his first state appearance of his career.
In his first state tournament, Huntley freshman Will Geske (25-3), the winner of three majors this season, including the FVC and sectionals, went 2-2.
Teammates Ben Hein-Jonathon Stec (17-9) were unable to break into the win column in their two matches for the two-time sectional dubs champions.
In Class 1A, top seed Zach Bobofchak-Hugh Davis from Benet Academy went past a trio of opponents on Thursday in Arlington Heights at Hersey High School, and will now face the 5-8 seed Will McHugh-Marko Nikolic from Chicago St. Ignatius.
Bobofchak helped Benet claim second place last spring here with two wins at singles, and has his club currently is in eighth place along with Morton from central Illinois.
No. 2 seed Ben Graft (22-0) from Aurora Central Catholic is drawing closer to earning the first state medal in program history after having an easy time of things on the bottom half of the 1A bracket.
“Ben has developed a much better first serve, and a killer forehand, and what I like so much about (Ben) is that he’s humble, and a great sportsman, and is everything you want in an athlete — an honor student, team player, and generous with his talent,” says coach Brian Cole.
Graft, who was the CCL and sectional champion at Benet, will now face three-time state qualifier and 5-8 seed Bryton Short of Metamora, who recently earned his 100th career victory.
It will be a pair of 9-16 seeds from the area playing in a win or go home contest Friday morning at the Wheeling venue when the Aurora Central Catholic team of Adam and Elijah Hartford (28-3) face Zeke Bisharat-Ansh Desai (13-3) of Hinsdale South.
The Hartford duo would roar back from a first round defeat to win their next three, dropping just eight games in their straight-set victories.
The Hinsdale South team has registered quality victories of U-High Chicago, Nazareth Academy and Aurora Central Catholic this spring, and head coach Steve Snider is thrilled with the play of his top team.
“They are really a solid doubles team who do not make a lot of mistakes, give up very few free points, and just play steady tennis while making good decisions, and finding a good balance between playing aggressive and being patient,” Snider said.
Zeke Bisharat, along with his brother Zane, lost in the consolation quarterfinals a year ago here at the tournament.