Centennial's Miller, Ruedi a near-perfect pairing
CHAMPAIGN – Some things just go well together.
Bacon and eggs. Peanut butter and jelly. Kermit and Miss Piggy. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
Centennial's Quinn Miller and Dave Ruedi just mesh. Ruedi is the Starsky to Miller's Hutch.
Ruedi's intensity on the court, often seen in the form of fist pumps or screaming, is kept in check by Miller's calm demeanor. Ruedi, a junior, returns the favor by getting his senior teammate's "adrenaline going."
Together, the duo moved fluidly on the tennis court this season, a trait Ruedi credits to playing head-to-head during the offseason for four years.
"We really kind of know what the other person's doing at all times," Ruedi said.
Their chemistry led the Centennial doubles team to a 34-4 record and a ninth-place finish at the IHSA state tournament. The News-Gazette's Boys' Tennis Co-Players of the Year also took home Big 12 and sectional titles in doubles as well as helping lead the Chargers to team conference and sectional crowns.
"They were always talking and working together as a team," Centennial coach Don Waybright said. "They complemented each other. It just seemed to work well together. They played together as a team better than they could individually."
Even in singles play the duo was outstanding, Miller going 14-0 and Ruedi finishing 13-1. Yet, the players' games seemed to fit together like connecting pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
"We kind of pick up the weaknesses in each other," Miller said. "David has the big serve, while I've got the different spins on my serve."
The best example of the harmonization came in the most memorable match of the season.
After losing the first set 6-1 to Oak Park-River Forest in the round of 16 at state, Ruedi and Miller found their stride, taking the second set 6-3 and forcing the third set into a tiebreak.
After the Centennial duo took the first three points of the tiebreak, the fired-up Ruedi walked over to Miller and told him, "We're going to take this seven to nothing."
Miller, usually a laid-back tennis player, said Ruedi's comment pumped him up into a frenzy as the pair "went wild" doing exactly what Ruedi said it would do.
The sweep in the tiebreak gave the duo the match and assured it a spot in the Cen- tennial record books, advancing further than any boys' tennis players in school his-tory.
Waybright, who has been involved in Centennial tennis for nearly 30 years, said the tandem made for the "best season I've ever had by far."
Ruedi and Miller's four losses came to teams that finished in the top five at state, including a quarterfinal defeat against the eventual state champions from Hinsdale Central.
With Miller departing for the University of Kansas next fall – where he plans to try out for the club team – Ruedi will have to search for a new doubles partner or go it alone in singles play.
But the players always will remember the 2008 season when they cemented their names in Centennial's history.
"It's cool that people will remember us and say, 'Those are the good tennis players that played at Centennial High School,' " Miller said.