The Joliet Catholic No. 1 doubles team of seniors Nate Naal and Dominic Bertino were involved in a war on Saturday at the Joliet West Invitatioanl with Plainfield Central’s DJ Colantone and Neal Madarang.
The Hilltoppers won the first set 6-4 and by the time they started the second set, most eyes were focused on their match as it was the last on still going on. They dropped a 6-3 decision to the Wildcat duo.
Between the second and third sets, Joliet Catholic coach Scott Allgood was informed that if his troops won, the Hilltoppers would be crowned invite champs by one point. If they lost, the Hilltoppers would be tied with Lemont and would lose out on the title by a second tiebreaker.
Naal-Bertino went into the third game with some pressure they didn’t know about.
“Coach Allgood kept that from us,” Bertino said. “We had no idea.’’
But the team was still able to come back with a 6-4 victory and the Hilltoppers grabbed the title with 35 points followed by Lemont (34), Hononegah (28), Joliet Township co-op (22), Plainfield Central (22), Plainfield South (20), Oak Lawn (9) and Lincoln-Way West (8).
“I didn’t want the pressure on Nate and Dominic – I wanted them to be loose and free,” Allgood said about not telling the players about the championship implications of the final set. ‘’When they play together and they play loose, they are one of the best teams in the area.’’
The Hilltoppers’ third doubles team of Seth Stockl-Freddie Harvey also won a title. The second doubles team of Ryan Hippman-Dyllan Mattea claimed second while singles players Jack Geissler and Luke Troha each had third-place finishes to help the cause.
“It was nice that everyone could contribute,” said Allgood. “I couldn’t be happier.’’
Lemont’s Nick Urban won his second singles title in three years at the West Invitational with a 7-6 (13-11 tiebreaker) 6-2 victory over Plainfield South’s Austin Russell.
The two engaged in a lot of friendly chatter during the match, especially during a point in the first set when Russell hit a shot between his legs that went long.
“We played each other during a dual meet and he hit one like that and I blocked it for a winner and then I tried one against him and he did the same against me,” Urban said. “We play hard during the points but after, we mess around. It’s more fun that way.”
Urban beat Russell in the title match to win the tournament when he was a freshman in 2012 while Russell knocked Urban out in the semifinals last year. Russell has finished second in the invite three years in a row as he succumbed to Joliet’s Jack Carney last year.
Lemont freshman Faraz Longin was a force at second doubles but dropped a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 decision to Hononegah’s Austin Owens in the title match.
“Playing on varsity is exactly what I thought it was going to be.’’ Longin said. ‘’I thought I wouldn’t keep up but I think I’m doing well so far.”