Joliet Catholic girls tennis coach Mark Streitz knew junior Nina Bertino had improved her all-around game.
Playing against Bertino during her sophomore season at practice, Streitz usually played well and would have won the matches if coach and player had kept score.
The tables were turned for Bertino’s junior campaign.
“Nina is exponentially better this year,” Streitz said. “When we play at practice, I can barely stay on the court with her. Her game went to another level this year.”
Having qualified for the state tournament as a freshman as a doubles player, Bertino made it to state on the singles side her sophomore and junior seasons. This past week at the state tournament, she went 3-2 overall, advancing to the fifth consolation round.
Even making her third state appearance, Bertino felt some nerves, odd considering she was at ease the first two times.
“The last two years I was really nervous at sectionals and happy to be there at state,” Bertino said with a laugh. “This year, it reversed where I was nervous at state. The biggest thing this year was my net game and my consistency. I was able to hang with and beat players I used to not even be able to hang with on the court.”
Joliet Catholic’s doubles duo, junior McCoy Hutchison and sophomore Maddie Bauer, also went 3-2, falling in the fifth consolation round.
“McCoy and Maddie played really well,” Streitz said. “They lost to some good teams, teams they could have beaten. Some of it is them being underclassmen, but they’re gaining that experience.”
Stagg doubles make some noise at state
The Southland area does not have the prestigious tennis reputation that the northwest suburbs might.
But watching his team compete at this past week’s state tournament, Stagg coach John Daniels was reminded how close the Southland tennis community can be.
“I was watching our girls play and the coaches and players from Richards and Sandburg are there cheering them on too,” Daniels said. “That means a lot to see that support. It was a neat experience for both me and the girls to see it.”
Winners of its own sectional last week, Stagg was well represented at state, qualifying two singles players and two doubles teams.
The junior doubles pair of Leeza Bodnar and Silvia Kulbokas finished 3-2 overall, advancing to the fifth consolation round before falling for a second time.
“Leeza and Silvia lost to two ranked senior teams,” Daniels said. “That’s good experience when you see you’re that close. They’re very athletic, and they can get a lot better so it’s exciting for next year.”
Lincoln-Way West swimming switches things up
Lincoln-Way West swim coach Kristen Neuberg doesn’t admit to being a so-called “science nerd.”
On the other hand, the science of swimming prompted a change for Neuberg and the Warriors this season as the team switched up its practices to include more sprint workouts.
“We wanted to change it up, not do the same thing year after year,” Neuberg said. “It’s the science of it, the physiology and how muscles respond to swimming faster. We wanted to breathe some life into practices coming with a high intensity.”
Lincoln-Way West will compete this weekend at the SouthWest Suburban Red conference tournament at Lincoln-Way North and at the Sandburg Sectional November 15.
Building off a strong offseason, sophomore Caitlyn Schreiber already broke the school record for the 100-yard backstroke this season and is a hopeful state qualifier in the 50-yard freestyle.
“With a little extra rest, we’re dropping times in all swims,” Neuberg said. “The goal is always the same, be as competitive as we can at conference.”
Neuberg also credited Cailey Janosek, Peyton Paschke, Kira Weems, Erica Dice, Erika Tanquilut, Kathy Keblusek, Katelyn Piwowar and Zue Balquin for their solid performances.