Youth was served on the final day of the IHSA girls tennis state tournament at Buffalo Grove, as a pair of the state’s top young players battled for nearly two hours for the singles championship.
In the end, Naperville Central sophomore Tiffany Chen emerged with the title, defeating Hinsdale Central freshman Bella Lorenzini 6-3, 7-6 (5) on Saturday. Chen, who was seeded second overall, rallied in the second set to push the match to deuce, then withstood Lorenzini’s several strong counters to earn the victory.
“I don’t really know how I got through that — that was a struggle,” Chen said. “I just had to keep myself focused and play through it.”
Down 4-1 in the second set, it appeared Chen would need to go the distance to knock off Lorenzini. Instead, she buckled down, defending her baseline with a variety of ground strokes and well-placed overhands to win four consecutive games and take the lead. Lorenzini responded with some well-positioned shots, eventually pushing the set to deuce. When Lorenzini returned a forehand shot into the bottom of the net, Chen clinched the championship.
“My coach told me to just weather the storm and play through it,” Chen said. “Bella hit some amazing shots, and she’s a great player. I just kept calm and had to keep playing my game.”
Chen, who finished fourth in the state last year, is the first Redhawks player to win the state singles title since Elizabeth Lumpkin won the last of her four championships in 2004.
Despite Lorenzini’s loss in the singles final, Hinsdale Central still claimed a share of the team championship. The Red Devils tied with Lake Forest for first place with 39 points. New Trier (38), Stevenson (36) and Naperville Central (32) rounded out the top five, respectively.
In doubles, Stevenson’s top-seeded pair of Kendall Kirsch and Alexxis Kiven knocked off the second-seeded Oak Park-River Forest doubles team of Taylor Arends and Tess Trinka, 6-4, 6-2. Utilizing strong overhand shots that put the Huskies on their heels, Kirsch and Kiven grabbed control early and never looked back.
“We were really fired up, and we wanted to be aggressive, because they are a really solid team,” Kirsh said.
Kiven said that after Oak Park made adjustments, the Patriots countered by using more lobs to keep their opponents away from the net.
“They started moving us around a bit, so our goal was to push them back, keep the aggressiveness up.”