VERNON HILLS — Buffalo Grove had a system all season for its girls tennis team.
For weekday dual meets, the Bison’s top two singles players were senior Anna Klipstein and freshman Dasha Ignatova. For doubles, coach Kevin Schrammel would start seniors Maddy Delano and Jessie Jarosz at No. 1 and junior Anna Sandler and sophomore Christina Harisiadis at No. 2.
But for weekend tournaments, the script flipped. Klipstein and Ignatova played doubles, while Delano, Jarosz, Sandler and Harisiadis got singles time.
The strategy emphasized winning dual meets while preparing Klipstein and Ignatova as a doubles team for sectionals.
“They are both strong all-around players,” Schrammel said. “At singles, they are very consistent. At practice, they do a ton of volleying. I talked to them before and they were all in. It was the smartest decision to hope they would qualify [for state].”
They didn’t get to state, thanks to a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Barrington freshmen Nidhi Jha and Paige Broustis on Friday at the Stevenson Sectional. Still, the strategy put them in a good position entering the meet. Klipstein and Ignatova were given a 3/4 seed and a first-round bye. They’d earned the seed with a second-place finish at the Sept. 6 Fremd Invitational as a strong résumé enhancer.
All season long, Klipstein, a four-year varsity player, embraced her role as mentor to newbie Ignatova.
“I had played the same people [in previous seasons] and knew how they hit and their weaknesses,” Klipstein said, adding the two often would rally together after practice or weekend tournaments to sharpen their skills. “I had more experience so I could teach strategy.”
As the season wore on, roles reversed, and it was often Ignatova mentoring Klipstein.
“She taught me to keep my head up and not get frustrated,” Klipstein said. “If I missed a shot, she’d say, ‘Shake it off. It’s not a big deal.’ ”
So when the pair took the court Friday afternoon at the Vernon Hills Athletic Complex, they were ready.
Against Jha and Broustis, Klipstein and Ignatova fell behind 3-0 in the first set. Behind the strong serving of Ignatova and finishing volleys of Klipstein, they rallied back to 5-4, only to drop the set 6-4.
The second set was equally back-and-forth. Klipstein and Ignatova broke serve early to lead 2-0. Jha and Broustis won the next four games to seize control. Never able to get another service break, Klipstein and Ignatova dropped the set 6-4.
“It was a match of streaks and runs. Sometimes you get outplayed,” Schrammel said. “[The result] did not disappoint me.”
In a talent-laden sectional, the Bison managed two victories in the singles draw. Sandler defeated Fremd senior Kate Randall 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 before losing 6-4, 6-4 to Barrington senior Caroline Levy. Harisiadis defeated Dundee-Crown junior Alyssa Anderson 7-5, 6-2 before losing to top-seeded Kendall Kirsch of Stevenson 6-0, 6-0 in the second round.
Ignatova, Sandler and Harisiadis should form the core of the 2015 Bison. Klipstein will graduate with great memories of 2014 and her four years at Buffalo Grove.
“We were all really close,” Klipstein said. “I’m going to miss them so much.”