Naperville Central’s Tiffany Chen battles back, reaches state semis

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Tiffany Chen won’t ponder how she pulled it off.

All that matters is she did.

The Naperville Central junior’s bid for a repeat singles championship is still alive after Chen weathered two difficult matches at the state tennis meet Friday in Buffalo Grove.

She was pushed to the brink in both.

Chen (27-0) rallied from down 5-1 in the first set of a quarterfinal with Stevenson’s Kendall Kirsch for a 7-5, 6-2 win. Earlier, Chen sprung an improbable comeback trailing 4-1 in the third to top Lyons sophomore Jelly Bosovic 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.

“A match is never over until it is over,” Chen said. “I’ve lost many a match when I was up like that. I know it’s possible.”

Chen had not dropped a set in 24 matches leading up to Friday. She proved up to the task.

“It takes a lot of character when you are down and the bulls-eye is on your back to keep fighting and weather it out,” Naperville Central coach Don Bonet said.

It sets up a 9 a.m. semifinal rematch in Buffalo Grove against Hinsdale Central’s Bella Lorenzini. Chen beat Lorenzini 6-3, 7-6 (5) in last year’s final. Carmel’s Brienne Minor will play Lyons freshman Meg Kowalski in the other semifinal.

“It will be a good match,” Chen said. “I’m feeling good.”

Hinsdale Central currently leads the team standings with 44 points.

Chen’s teammates Cass Goldner and Hannah Swarm saw their tournament come to a conclusion Friday.

After advancing to the fourth round with three wins Thursday, the Central duo dropped a 6-2, 7-5 decision to Glenbrook North’s Colette and Catherine O’Regan. Swarm and Goldner, the latter just two weeks removed from returning from a torn labrum, led 5-4 in the second.

They took an injury default in their back-draw match.

“During the last match Cass was really hurting — they put up a heck of a fight,” Bonet said. “Cass still isn’t herself yet, but it was an amazing run by them.”

Naperville North’s doubles team of Jessica Hu and Abbie Boswell saw a grueling, unusual two days come to a close with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss.

The Huskies sat through a two-hour delay in a lockdown Thursday at Hoffman Estates, dropped a three-setter to Young, but then came back at 7:30 a.m. Friday to remain alive with straight-set wins over Mount Zion, New Trier and Barrington.

“This year was definitely weird with that lockdown; I think we handled our four matches well,” Hu said. “We left it on the court.”

Neuqua Valley’s doubles team of Taylor Hershey and Jessica Chen remained alive with consolation wins over Lockport, Joliet Catholic and Edwardsville — the latter a marathon 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (11-9) third-set tiebreaker.

Neuqua Valley freshman Christina Stankovic lost her first consolation match Friday to Stevenson’s Zoe Manion 6-1, 6-3.

Benet’s Allison Bartley and Katie Telford beat Lyons 6-1, 6-0 and Glenbrook North 5-4, 7-5 in back-draw matches before bowing out with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 loss to Triad.

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