South Elgin badminton coach Melissa Tuftedal was on maternity leave last spring and didn’t get to see Christine Mehr make school history.
Mehr became the first Storm player to win a first-round match at the state finals when she knocked off Oswego’s Sydney Blount 21-16, 21-13 before losing her next two matches.
Now Mehr is back and looking for more and Tuftedal can’t wait for the action to begin Friday at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
“I think she’s very excited and I’m excited because last year I didn’t get to watch her perform,” Tuftedal said. “We’re hoping for her to do even better and just do her best.”
Mehr, a junior, takes a 28-8 record into her opening match against New Trier junior Julia Siebert. Both players are unseeded.
If Mehr wins, she could face 13-16 seed Gerri Soren, a Deerfield junior who is 31-7. Fremd senior Angela Wu, a 3-4 seed who finished sixth last year, is a possible quarterfinal opponent.
None of the matches will be easy, but one thing Mehr won’t be is unprepared or intimidated.
“Last year she didn’t see that level of competition until she went down to state and she was amazed at the competition,” Tuftedal said. “Now she knows what to expect.”
Mehr became the first sectional champion in school history last year. This year she finished third at the Geneva Sectional, losing to Rolling Meadows senior Ariel Cantieri 18-21, 21-18, 21-16 in the semifinals, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t improved.
“I think the competition was harder this year,” Tuftedal said. “Our sectional that we were in was a harder sectional than last year.”
Regardless of what happens this year, Tuftedal is happy with the way Mehr is progressing.
“She is very, very driven,” Tuftedal said. “She’s always striving to do better and she’s very coachable.”
Bartlett seniors Marian Haider and Rachel Iacopetti are striving to make some school history of their own. They will be trying to become the first Hawks to win a match at state when they take on Hinsdale Central’s Amy Wey and Samantha McClary in the first round of the double-elimination tournament.
Bartlett players have an 0-14 record at state.