Naperville Central’s Bill Zhang caps sweet season with top-16 finish

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Naperville Central freshman Bill Zhang’s first varsity season turned out be a resounding success.

Zhang wrapped up a stellar year Friday with a top-16 finish at the boys tennis state tournament held at various sites in the northwestern suburbs.

“I thought I played pretty well [Friday],” Zhang said. “It was a fun experience. I was just gassed at the end.”

The reason Zhang was so tired was because he played four matches on Friday, a day after he played three matches.

Zhang (27-4) opened the day with a 6-4, 6-3 win over South Elgin’s Andre Norasith in the fourth round of the consolation bracket.

He then garnered a 7-6 (8) 6-1 win over Rolling Meadows’ Mack Galvin and a 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 victory over Carbondale’s Sebastien Lescoulie before falling to New Trier’s Tom Bickel, 6-1, 6-2.

“I’m definitely tired but I just wanted to keep trying and keep fighting,” Zhang said. “I improved several areas of my game this year and it was a good experience.”

Naperville Central seniors Wesley Lo and Daniel Delgrosso (22-3) picked up consolation-bracket wins over Rockford Boylan’s Marcus Muldowney and Josh Reichardt, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5) and St. Charles North’s Aaron Amburgey and Grant Spellman, 6-4, 6-1 to guarantee a top 24 finish in state.

The duo dropped their next match, falling to Belleville East’s Jacob Hamilton and Chase Stumne 6-3, 6-3.

“Our goal was to make top 32, which is what we were seeded,” Delgrosso said. “Of course, you want to win that last match but I was happy we finished top 24.”

Benet senior Noah Read also finished in the top 24, but in the singles bracket.

He opened the day with victories over Metamora’s Mitchell Nguyen, 6-3, 6-1 and Stevenson’s Benjamin Bush, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Read appeared all but done against Bush because he was down 5-1 in the second set.

“I think me being a senior, it hit me then,” Read said. “I thought ‘Wow, I might only have one more game left in my career.’”

Read fell behind 30-0 in the next game but then started the turnaround.

“I was pretty confident I could hold my serve,” he said. “I started going for more when Ben was serving. When you’re down 5-1, you can’t think too far ahead. You have to fight for each point. You can’t make any mistakes because you’re four points from losing the match.”

Read pulled out the win, but he had almost nothing left in the tank for his next match against Downers South’s Christian San Andres. Read won the first set 7-6 (6), but dropped the next two 6-2, 6-2.

“Everything was cramping up,” said Read, who never considered retiring in the match. “It was pretty brutal but I didn’t even think of [retiring].”

Read finished with a record of 30-13 and has the most wins in school history (120). He will attend St. Louis University and hopes to walk onto the tennis team.

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