The T.F. South badminton team had just won the state title, but it sure didn’t seem like it.
At last year’s state tournament, the Rebels clinched the title but a debilitating injury and a huge loss late hampered the celebration.
T.F. South coach Bob Tengstrand vowed if the team would do it again, things would be different.
And Saturday, they certainly were.
Repeating as team state champions, T.F. South (16 points) defeated Buffalo Grove (15 points) for the team title at Eastern Illinois in Charleston.
“Our focus if we won was to be happy,” Tengstrand said. “Everyone played well, and we’re very happy. We had lots of balloons, streamers, pictures and silly string. All the girls showed me they could win easy and win under pressure too.”
T.F. South becomes the first badminton team to win back-to-back state titles since Downers Grove North won in 2003 and 2004.
Leading the charge were senior Cassie Breshock and junior Jenna Pasko who won the doubles title with a 21-19, 23-21 victory over Buffalo Grove’s Julie Jambrone and Katelyn Sommers.
Breshock and Pasko went a perfect 41-0 for the season.
“The state title means a lot to us, and it was a huge win for the team,” Breshock said. “It’s a great feeling, and we’re all celebrating and smiling. We were really focused today, and that helped our mindset and helped make it happen.”
The top-seeded singles player, T.F. South’s Jessica Gomez lost in Saturday’s semifinals to Hinsdale South’s Judy Yang in two sets but came out with a vengeance in the third-place match.
Having defeated Fremd’s Angela Wu in three sets earlier this season, Gomez rolled to a 21-9, 22-20 win to clinch the third-place trophy.
“(In the semifinals) I made more errors, and she just beat me,” Gomez said. “I was pretty happy I was able to do better coming off the injury, and I probably played the best match I’ve played all year (in the third-place match).”
Gomez tore her left ACL in last year’s third-place match at state.
Paula Rodriguez and Cameron Crosby lost both their matches Saturday but won three matches Friday to add three points to the team scoring while Bri Walker won one consolation match Friday, adding .5 points to the total.
“We share it with everyone at T.F. South,” Tengstrand said. “It’s a total team effort. It’s everybody whenever we win. We’re tickled pink.”
In the team standings, Lockport (7.5 points) finished fourth ahead of Lincoln-Way Central (12th, 6 points) and Andrew (15th, 4.5 points).