South Elgin’s Andre Norasith serves at Saturday’s UEC Valley Tournament.
Neuqua Valley left no doubt that it is the top team in the Upstate Eight Valley at Saturday’s conference tennis tournament at Waubonsie Valley.
The Wildcats won six of seven tournament title matches – including all three singles – on their way to finishing in first place with 83 team points.
“I think we’re really privileged in the respect that we do have depth,” Neuqua coach Trudy Bennorth said. “I can just pretty well count on all of them, it makes it really special.”
Metea Valley and Waubonsie Valley tied for second place with 47 points. South Elgin (36), Lake Park (33), Bartlett (13) and East Aurora (3) rounded out the seven team conference.
Neuqua first singles Mike Baiocchi knocked off No. 1 seed Andre Norasith of South Elgin in quick fashion, 6-1, 6-2, in the title match.
“I felt my serve was pretty much what got everything else going,” Baiocchi said. “If I’m serving real well, everything else just falls into place.”
Norasith, just a sophomore, was the Storm’s highest finisher at the tournament.
The Wildcats also got first place finishes from second singles Tim Worley and third singles Naveen Krishnan.
Neuqua’s Jack Warning and Andi Kosova and Waubonsie’s Abhi Singh and Deep Chatterjee met for the third time this season in the first doubles final. After the duos split the earlier meetings, Warning and Kosova won Saturday’s rubber match 7-6 (11-9), 3-6, 6-1.
“We definitely wanted that. The match was the deciding one – best two out of three,” Kosova said. “It was also a good boost going into sectionals and state.”
Neuqua’s third doubles team of Jeff Ohmer and Amit Iyer and fourth doubles team of Zach Bauernfein and Colton Luburgh also took home conference titles.
Waubonsie’s second doubles team of Mike Cioffi and Alex Tadeuch were the only first places finishers not from Neuqua. In just their fifth match together, the Warriors duo overcame an early deficit to knock off Metea’s Bill Finnerty and Nick Ohl 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“The first set we couldn’t get our serve returns in play. We were kind of letting them win the match just by us missing,” Cioffi said. “In the second set we started turning it around just by getting balls in play.”
Cioffi and Tadeuch are now 5-0 as a pair and will play together at next week’s West Aurora sectional.
In addition to Finnerty and Ohl, Metea received second-place finishes from third singles Kevin Brown and third doubles Rishi Sriram and George Lin.
Of the seven title winners, six came into the tournament seeded first. The only upset occurred in first singles where Neuqua’s Baiocchi, the No. 2 seed, knocked off South Elgin’s Norasith, the No. 1 seed.
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Naperville Sun, Aurora Beacon and Elgin Courier. It appears here.