The Batavia doubles tennis team of Bella Lins and Leah Puttin rallied to win the first set on a tiebreaker in the Class 2A St. Charles East sectional doubles championship match Saturday.
Bolstered by the come-from-behind win, the pair took the second set, 6-4 over the St. Charles North team of Caroline Donati and Smita Dhar to win the doubles title.
Lins and Puttin’s first place medals were just some of the hardware the Bulldogs took home from the tournament. Batavia also won the sectional team title.
St. Charles North finished second while St. Charles East and West Chicago tied for third.
All four schools will be represented at the state meet next week. The top four singles and doubles finishers earned a state berth.
Donati and Dhar raced out to a 5-2 lead in the first set of the doubles title match. The Batavia duo rallied to go ahead 6-5 only to have the East pair tie the contest at 6-all. The Bulldogs rallied again to win the tiebreaker.
Puttin felt that knowing the match may be their last gave them the incentive to win.
“I think just the thought that as seniors, this is our last sectional tournament and we just wanted to win our last regular match on these courts,” Puttin said. “We’ve played here many times. They are really great competition, so we knew it was going to be close.”
Puttin is making her second trip to state. She earned a berth two years ago as a sophomore. No state meet was held last year due to COVID.
Batavia coach Brad Nelson was anxious at the start of the match but had faith Puttin and Lins could turn the contest around.
“We knew it was going to be a battle. When we were down 5-2, I was a little concerned, but I knew that they would have something left in them and they would be able to make a run,” Nelson said. “When we got even at five, I knew we were in pretty good shape. The tiebreak was very close and then we got off to a good start in the second set which was key and built that 5-2 lead.”
Katrina Dy of West Chicago held off a second set rally by Bulldog Druthi Daggubati to win the singles title 6-2, 7-5. It is Daggubati’s first trip the state tournament. Dy, a senior, qualified two years ago as well.
“I was mentally challenged at first (in the second set) but then I got myself back together. After listening to my coach, I knew I could do a lot better,” Dy said. “This match was the most challenging of the tournament. She’s a really good player and she played really well.”
The third-place single contest between St. Charles North sophomore teammates Allie Gizewicz and Maddie Chaggaris was not as nerve wracking as the title matches- it was decided by a coin toss.
“One of the girls is dealing with an injury and they both qualified for state so there was no point to play the match,” said St. Charles North coach Sean Masoncup. “So, we flipped a coin for whose name would go through and then on Tuesday at practice they’re going to play a match for the medals.”
Chaggaris won the toss.
The Bulldogs also clinched third place in the doubles competition. Hailey Durso and Kelly Thoman beat St. Charles East’s Audrey Jones and Kate Lauger, 6-4, 6-1.
“Jones and Lauger weren’t even ranked, and they cut through two seeds yesterday. That was unexpected,” St. Charles East coach Matt Bullman said. “We knew we had a chance but for them to qualify for state was a huge win for us.”
Masoncup, who leads a team loaded with freshmen and sophomores, had hoped his only seniors would advance to state. North Stars Sherya Gustafason and Daniela Giacopelli were eliminated in the state qualifying round by Durso and Thoman, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.
“I wish I could have pushed through one of the doubles teams. My only seniors had a great match against the Batavia team. It went three sets,” the St. Charles North coach said. “They’re both captains on the team and four-year varsity players. It was sad to see their careers end. I thought they had a phenomenal tournament.”