The girls tennis St. Francis 1A sectional in Wheaton dealing with the elements. The first three rounds on Friday dealt with two rain delays, pushing some of the quarterfinal action to Saturday.
Singles Semi Finals
One of the singles semi final matchups pairs Noelle Lanton from Elgin Academy and reigning sectional champion Daniella Nenadovich from Benet Academy.
Nenadovich the number one seed in the sectional getting a first set challenge from the third seeded Lanton as she can’t curve her return back inside enough to catch the line.
But in set number two, the three time state qualifier takes control and completes the two set victory 6-3, 6-0 and moves on the sectional championship. Redwing teammate Meredith Green earned points for her team advancing to the singles quarterfinals before bowing out. Lanton does go on to win the third place match.
The rain delays from the previous day pushed the doubles quarterfinals to Saturday. Claire Converse and Jaclyn Merhing from Benet facing Jillian Paulson and Audrey Litfin from Wheaton Academy.
Wheaton serving on the far side of the court but Merhing puts some nice spin on her return and picks up the point as the Redwings take the opening set 6-1.
Second set and Claire Converse with the initial return before Merhing steps in and splits the Wheaton defense for the point. A 6-1, 6-1 win puts Benet into the semi finals. No state tournament this year due to COVID, but a semi final appearance would normally make you a state qualifier.
Doubles Semi finals
Benet’s top doubles team of Kaitlin Lee and Felicity Kolb already in the semi finals against Evie Taylor and Anelle Dominguez from Kaneland. Kaitlin Lee undefeated in post season play in her career after winning the doubles state title last year with Kendall Schrader.
But her new parter isn’t too shabby either, an ace from Kolb has the Redwings rolling in set one.
Second set as Benet looks to advance to the title match, Kaitlin Lee in a furious back and forth, trading cross court volleys. Finally Lee fires a shot that catches the Knights off balance and earns the point. Lee and Kolb into the finals with a 6-2, 6-1 win.
The other doubles semi finals has Elen Ryson and Maddie Hoden from St. Francis, hosts of the sectional, against Converse and Merhing.
The Spartans duo takes the first set, but the Redwings not giving up, check out this recovery from Claire Converse, it looks like she won’t catch up to the lob but somehow the junior gets to it puts it over through the swirling wind. Great point for BA as we head to a tie breaking third set.
This point illustrates the back and forth nature of this matchup, nobody giving an inch or willing to concede a point, eventually Maddie Hoden gets her racquet on the ball and finds the perfect spot on the court. St. Francis, the sectional hosts, moves on to the finals after a 6-4 third set victory.
As the singles championship gets underway, a rain delay arrives as Nenadovich and her opponent Piper Schrepferman of Kaneland gather their gear and head off the court for a delay. The best way to pass the time in a rain delay? Dog snuggles.
Following the delay, Schrepferman, also a returning sectional champion shows Nenadovich that she has her work cut out for her with this beauty of a shot.
But you know the Redwing senior isn’t going to go down without a fight, look at some of these line drive returns just scraping above the net. A furious forehand followed by a backhand down the line puts Nenadovich right back into the match.
After Schrepferman takes this first set 6-4, Nenadovich trailing once again 3 games to 2 in the second set. But a strong cross court forehand is beyond the reach of her opponent and it’s three games apiece.
But Schrepferman does a great job keeping Nenadovich off balance all match, here she puts this point away after another great volley. The Kaneland senior wins the singles championship 6-4, 6-3. A great high school career comes to a close for Nenadovich, who finished in the top four at sectionals in all four of her varisty seasons.
On to the doubles championship with Hoden and Ryson against Lee and Kolb in their final matches of the year. Katilin Lee really does not want to lose her post season undefeated streak as she rushes in for this fireball of a return for the point. Redwings rolling after a 6-0 first set sweep.
Early in set two and Kolb lends a helping hand with a smash down the middle. Redwings on the brink of another sectional crown.
Kolb serving and volleying with Hoden back and forth before a strong forehand goes just beyond the reach of Ryson. Benet wins the doubles championship and clinches the team sectional title as well.
Doubles Third Place
After another rain delay, the doubles third place match played under the lights as Converse and Merhing in a tough battle against Evie Talyor and Anelle Dominguez.
Kaneland takes the first set, but once again the Benet duo will not go down quietly, forcing a tiebreaker in set number two.
But the Knights just a little stronger in this matchup, winning the third place medal and edging out Glenbard South for a second place team finish in the St. Francis sectional. Benet wins its third sectional in the last four years thanks to three finishes in the top four.
Full sectional brackets can be found HERE.
For additional prep sports action, visit our Naperville Sports Weekly page.
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