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Peter Georgiades, Anton Levitin make last Buffalo Grove win count

BUFFALO GROVE — Playing on their home courts on the opening day of the state tournament May 29, Buffalo Grove’s doubles team of Peter Georgiades and Anton Levitin proved they belonged on Illinois tennis’ biggest stage.

Georgiades, a senior, and Levitin, a junior, hadn’t dropped a set before they squared off with New Trier’s Thomas Hanley and Wyatt Mayer, a 9-16 seed, in the third round. As 17-32 seeds, Georgiades and Levitin were underdog, but they didn’t see it that way.

“I wanted that matchup so bad,” Georgiades said. “I was telling [Levitin], ‘They will be the heavy favorites, but we can beat them.’”

They dropped the first set 6-4. In the second set, Georgiades and Levitin faced their biggest challenge of the tournament. With Levitin serving, the Buffalo Grove partners trailed 5-4 and 40-0. Hanley and Mayer had three tries to close out the match.

“That was my scariest moment. I got so nervous,” Levitin said. “I had to calm myself.”

Coach Mike Naughton was confident in his players.

“Mentally they are always prepared, always ready to go whether they are up or down,” he said.

After missing his first serve at 40-0, Levitin did not miss another the rest of the game. He and Georgiades won the next five points and got back even at 5-5. The match’s momentum had flipped, and they broke Hanley and Wyatt. At 6-5, Georgiades served out the set.

In the third set the Trevians had no answer to Levitin and Georgiades. Whether it was grinding out points from the baseline or using a strategy of lobbing over their opponents’ heads and then attacking the net, Levitin and Georgiades won the third set 6-3 to take the match.

“We knew it was ours,” Georgiades said. “All we had to do was play our best and we were going to win.”

Levitin and Georgiades lost their next two matches Friday, falling 6-2, 6-3 to Glenbrook North’s David Zakhodin and Miguel Perez in the fourth round then 7-5, 7-6 (5) to Edwardsville’s Zach Byrant and Jonathan Koons in the consolation bracket.

But it is the New Trier match the two will remember, the perfect cap to a two-year partnership. This season, Levitin and Georgiades won 33 matches, a Mid-Suburban League title and a berth in the state tournament round of 16.

“It was a great way to end my senior year,” Georgiades said.