Chargers surprised with start in girls tennis

Chargers surprised with start in girls tennis

CHAMPAIGN — Teri Scaggs boasts just three seniors, with Justice Hardin playing at the highest level in No. 4 singles and No. 1 doubles.

That doesn't mean the Chargers are struggling, though. Their youth is leading to an influx of success as Centennial is a perfect 7-0 in dual matches this season.

"I wish I knew the magical answer to (why that is)," Scaggs said. "I think because our top four are so close in skill level ... and it's just worked out really well for the group."

Freshman Gurveena Singh "swooped in" to control the No. 1 singles spot, according to Scaggs, responding with a 12-2 ledger. Junior Angela Xu, whom Scaggs said has most surprised her, holds down the No. 2 singles role to the tune of a 13-1 mark.

Junior Cayla Risinger (8-1 at No. 3), Hardin (7-2 at No. 4) and freshman Aviv Sagiv (7-0 at No. 5) also are well above .500 playing solo.

"I think part of it is they work together getting better," Scaggs said. "They all represent a different style of play. It's very helpful when ... you're able to play against somebody slicey-dicey, a hard-hitter, someone who hits balls back with no pace and you have to generate pace."

Centennial's rise extends to doubles as well, where Singh and Xu field a perfect 8-0 record at the No. 2 spot.

The Chargers' next test comes this weekend with the Bloomington Invitational. That precedes strong challenges from Big 12 Conference foes Danville and Normal Community, as well as the league tournament early next month.

"I think we need to see where we stand for upcoming matches, and then where we stack up for the Big 12," Scaggs said. "Maybe if somebody loses a dual match, how can we rebound and give them a chance at Big 12."

Doubles action sparks Central

Gary Day is keeping subdued expectations for his Champaign Central girls' tennis program, even after Wednesday's 9-0 victory over St. Thomas More.

"I have trepidation about (facing) Normal West and Danville, but we'll give them a run," Day said. "Five-hundred (win percentage) is not too far from where we're going to end up."

That may not be true for individual statistics, though.

Especially on the doubles scene, the Maroons have sparkled thus far. Junior Olivia Gunn and senior Allison Bergh, when they aren't playing at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, team at No. 2 doubles and have tabbed a 5-1 record.

Equally impressive are senior Chikako Barnes and junior Erin Durukan, also at 5-1 in the No. 3 doubles role.

"There's no histrionics with (Barnes). She's quiet and does her job," Day said. "She kind of reminds me of the girl (Namoi Osaka) who beat Serena, just quiet and composed.

"Durukan is getting to be a much stronger player this year. She found out she can actually get out and hit the ball hard."

Barnes is an undefeated 6-0 at No. 6 singles to complement her doubles output. But it's Gunn and Bergh drawing the toughest solo matchups, and they've achieved records of 5-4 and 4-2 in their respective positions.

"This is just what they normally do," Day said. "I always say they're kind of like lumberjacks. They go out, do the job, get it done."

Sabers make strides

Numbers don't mean everything to first-year St. Thomas More coach John Schmitt. The eye test shows his pupils are finding their way on the court these days.

"I think the girls have improved dramatically from the beginning of practices, when several hadn't played before," Schmitt said. "So I'm really pleased and impressed with the progress we've made."

Two youngsters who have piled up singles victories for the Sabers are sophomore Ashley Mills and freshman Nora Kelley at Nos. 2 and 5, respectively. Mills carries a 4-2 ledger, while Kelley possesses a 4-3 record.

"(Mills has) been very consistent. She keeps the ball in play and moves it around," Schmitt said. "She's a really smart player and really comfortable in the 2 spot.

"Nora Kelley had never played before, and she's stepped right in. (Now she's) looking at, how do I set up a point, seize control and put my opponent away with a winner."

Senior Makayla Horn — STM's lone upperclassman — and junior Regina Schmitt lead the Sabers' doubles charge from the No. 2 spot at 4-2. John Schmitt believes there's a little more work to be done in STM's tandem play.

"Always working on understanding the game tactically, especially with doubles," Schmitt said. "We're trying to get the girls to the net more to put points away."

Of course, this season hasn't been new only for some of the Sabers. Schmitt's inaugural attempt at leading a prep program has permitted him some learning opportunities as well.

"It's gone about like I thought it was going to," he said. "I think most of the teaching took place before the season, and now we're more managing matches and making minor adjustments."

Doubles action sparks Central

CHAMPAIGN — Gary Day is keeping subdued expectations for his Champaign Central girls' tennis program, even after Wednesday's 9-0 victory over St. Thomas More.

"I have trepidation about (facing) Normal West and Danville, but we'll give them a run," Day said. "Five-hundred (win percentage) is not too far from where we're going to end up."

That may not be true for individual statistics, though.

Especially on the doubles scene, the Maroons have sparkled thus far. Junior Olivia Gunn and senior Allison Bergh, when they aren't playing at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, team at No. 2 doubles and have tabbed a 5-1 record.

Equally impressive are senior Chikako Barnes and junior Erin Durukan, also at 5-1 in the No. 3 doubles role.

"There's no histrionics with (Barnes). She's quiet and does her job," Day said. "She kind of reminds me of the girl (Namoi Osaka) who beat Serena, just quiet and composed.

"Durukan is getting to be a much stronger player this year. She found out she can actually get out and hit the ball hard."

Barnes is an undefeated 6-0 at No. 6 singles to complement her doubles output. But it's Gunn and Bergh drawing the toughest solo matchups, and they've achieved records of 5-4 and 4-2 in their respective positions.

"This is just what they normally do," Day said. "I always say they're kind of like lumberjacks. They go out, do the job, get it done."

Sabers make strides

Numbers don't mean everything to first-year St. Thomas More coach John Schmitt. The eye test shows his pupils are finding their way on the court these days.

"I think the girls have improved dramatically from the beginning of practices, when several hadn't played before," Schmitt said. "So I'm really pleased and impressed with the progress we've made."

Two youngsters who have piled up singles victories for the Sabers are sophomore Ashley Mills and freshman Nora Kelley at Nos. 2 and 5, respectively. Mills carries a 4-2 ledger, while Kelley possesses a 4-3 record.

"(Mills has) been very consistent. She keeps the ball in play and moves it around," Schmitt said. "She's a really smart player and really comfortable in the 2 spot.

"Nora Kelley had never played before, and she's stepped right in. (Now she's) looking at, how do I set up a point, seize control and put my opponent away with a winner."

Senior Makayla Horn — STM's lone upperclassman — and junior Regina Schmitt lead the Sabers' doubles charge from the No. 2 spot at 4-2. John Schmitt believes there's a little more work to be done in STM's tandem play.

"Always working on understanding the game tactically, especially with doubles," Schmitt said. "We're trying to get the girls to the net more to put points away."

Of course, this season hasn't been new only for some of the Sabers. Schmitt's inaugural attempt at leading a prep program has permitted him some learning opportunities as well.

"It's gone about like I thought it was going to," he said. "I think most of the teaching took place before the season, and now we're more managing matches and making minor adjustments."

 

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