T.F. South’s Jessica Gomez did all the rehab.
But still, there was that little bit of doubt in the back of her mind.
That’s fair, considering Gomez is just 10 months removed from tearing her left ACL in the third-place match at the state tournament last season.
But leading T.F. South Saturday at the 10-team Shepard Invitational, Gomez was back in fine form, winning the No. 1 singles title while the Rebels took top team honors, defeating Naperville North 54-50.
“I feel back to how I was last year (before the injury),” Gomez said. “This boosts my self-esteem to know that I can do this. Badminton is more mental than physical so I have to keep positive and think optimistically, and the results will be there.”
Gomez defeated Naperville North’s Kyleen Jan 21-13, 21-17 for the No. 1 singles title. Facing a tough, state-tested player in Jan in the final, the win went a long way in helping Gomez get over the mental barrier.
“She is definitely a tough girl, but I definitely feel better,” Gomez said. “It means I’m back to where I was before the injury. It gave me confidence.”
T.F. South claimed the title without its set lineup as Cassie Breshock played without No. 1 doubles partner Jenna Pasko who was unavailable to play. Breshock finished second at No. 2 singles, falling to Naperville North’s Jessica Hu 21-13, 21-16.
“This was my first singles tournament so I was definitely nervous,” Breshock said. “I took the loss, and (Jessica) is a great player. I think I did pretty good, and we won as a team.”
T.F. South’s other winner was the No. 2 doubles team of Jeanne Colin and Brittany Arreola, 21-17, 21-17 winners over Willowbrook’s Janine Johnson and Marisa Martinez.
“The girls stepped up,” T.F. South coach Bob Tengstrand said. “All of them, every single one, contributed so it was a total team effort.”
Naperville North’s other winner was at No. 3 doubles, Megan Petzold and Grace Chen defeating Willowbrook’s Sydney Planz and Haley Patel 22-20, 21-9.
Leading third-place Willowbrook (48 points), Brooke Bimber won No. 3 singles over T.F. South’s Bri Walker 12-21, 21-10, 21-18.
East Aurora’s Tia McClain and Amber McClain beat Reavis’ Stephanie Cardenas and Anna Wypuch 21-14, 21-17 to win No. 1 doubles.
Rounding out the team scoring, Reavis finished 4th (40) ahead of Stagg (6th, 33), Oak Forest (7th, 26), T.F. North (8th, 17), Shepard (9th, 16) and Plainfield Central (10th, 10).