Barrington went into this season’s girls tennis state tournament with a slight deficit.
The Fillies’ lone singles player, Michelle Linden, received a 9-16 seed. But their two doubles teams were not awarded a seed. That made for a challenging draw.
Coach Tracy Waters-Miller didn’t dwell on the team’s plight. She had a plan.
“We didn’t care where we get the points, front or back draw. But we will get them somewhere,” Waters-Miller said. “That’s exactly what we did.”
Linden started by winning all three of her opening-day matches at love. As a reward, she drew Hinsdale Central sophomore Isabella Lorenzini, a 3-4 seed, in the fourth round. Linden was unable to keep up with Lorenzini’s premier ball striking, dropping the match 6-2, 6-3. On Friday morning, Linden had to regroup as there were plenty of matches to be played in the back draw.
“You can’t get disappointed in that front draw. You get knocked off, you can go back,” Waters-Miller said, describing what she told Linden. “We lost, now let’s win these next two.”
By then, both doubles teams had joined Linden in the consolation bracket. Senior Addie Hirsch and junior Anna Donoghue, Barrington’s top doubles duo, won their first- and second-round matches before losing in the third. The second doubles team of freshman Nidhi Jha and Paige Broustis lost their first-round match but won their first two in the back draw.
At one point Friday, both doubles teams and Linden were playing at the same time at different locations.
“We were really excited be to be playing. There was a sense of we knew this day could be our last day of tennis,” Hirsch said. “We know the season is going to end so let’s stretch it out as much as possible.”
In the fourth round of the back draw, Jha and Broustis were eliminated (6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to Abby Kosharek and Katie Toohill of Normal). In the fifth round of the back draw, Hirsch and Donoghue lost 6-1, 6-4 to Abbie Boswell and Jessica Hu of Naperville North. But Linden was still alive.
Fillies assistant coach Eric Rodrigo drove Hirsch and Donoghue from Rolling Meadows to Wheeling, where Linden was playing. They watched her pick up more points and qualify for Saturday’s consolation round of eight. On Saturday in Buffalo Grove, teammates were there to cheer on Linden as she continued to advance.
“It’s so much fun to watch her play. Although we are not playing side-by-side, it feels like we are,” Hirsch said.
After finally being defeated in the fifth-place match by Warren’s Karyna Bihel, Linden had played nine matches in three days (winning seven). Her 10 points were complimented by the eight earned by both doubles teams. Barrington’s seventh-place finish was just what Waters-Miller had desired when the tournament started — a total team effort.
“That was our season. We maxed out in every way we possibly could have. It was exciting, with great teamwork.” Waters-Miller said. “And nobody wanted the season to be over.”