LAKE VILLA — Sitting in the stands adjacent to the courts at Lakes on Saturday, Vernon Hills girls tennis coach Doug Gerber watched the action intently.
The fifth-place match in the No. 3 doubles bracket of the North Suburban Conference tournament was being played in front of him. By then, Stevenson had secured the team title. But that didn’t stop Gerber from fixing his stare on freshmen Sydney Pacer and Weronika Przybylo.
“You are looking at the future of our doubles [program],” Gerber said.
Before freshman tryouts in August, Pacer and Przybylo had never met. Pacer attended Hawthorn Middle School North, Przybylo Hawthorn South. But once Gerber put them on varsity, they started playing tennis together almost every day.
“Once we made the team, we connected,” Pacer said. “We were really happy coach put us together.”
Pacer is better from behind the baseline while the 5-foot-8 Przybylo covers the net. Those skills were in development well before either player enrolled in high school.
Both have taken private lessons since the sixth grade. Pacer works with Joseph Siamashvili at College Park Athletic Club in Deerfield while Przybylo works with Jeff Love at Lincolnshire Tennis Club.
During the second and third sets of a back-draw match with Warren’s Lindsey O’Brien and Rachelle Geraldino at the NSC tournament, Gerber said Przybylo and Pacer took a quantum leap. After having lost the first set, the duo came back to win the final two 6-4, 7-5.
“They were moving really well and doing a lot of angle volleys they weren’t doing in the first set,” Gerber said. “There were two or three deuce games in that [third] set and [they] were able to pull it out.”
An easy 6-0, 6-0 win over Lakes’ team of Sarah Gattone and Sarah Gajda in the fifth-place match followed. Soon after, Pacer and Przybylo talked of a winter filled with more lessons and competitions.
“We’re probably going to try and do some semi-private lessons together,” Pacer said. “We don’t want to lose our tennis connection.”
Przybylo added: “I think both of us want to keep playing.”
Gerber said the decision to pair up early in their careers will dictate how they practice.
“When they go into the offseason and they know it’s going to be a doubles situation, it’s a different drill pattern that you will do indoors than if you were playing singles,” Gerber said. “They are already talking about doing [USTA] tournaments.”
The Cougars earned a sixth-place finish at the NSC tournament (Stevenson was champion).
Vernon Hills plays in the Stevenson Sectional beginning Thursday at Vernon Hills Athletic Complex. Gerber said his singles lineup of sophomore No. 1 Olivia Jazbutis and sophomore No. 2 Jessica Tartakovsky will remain intact. So will the Cougars’ No. 1 doubles team of seniors Shreya Kathuria and Jillian Roussel. The last doubles slot will be filled with either the team of senior Isabella Cirone and junior Leah Dosemagen or Pacer and Przybylo.
“They’ve already decided it’s going to be four years,” Gerber said of the Pacer and Przybylo pairing. “It’s nice to have two quality freshmen like this, ready to commit.”