Sycamore freshman Angelina Ye went into last weekend’s St. Charles East Sectional just hoping to qualify for the state tournament.
She came out as a sectional champion
Ye, the No. 3 seed, upset the top two seeds, both in straight sets, on her way to becoming Sycamore’s first state qualifier since Veronica Behrens in 2010.
“[Geneva sophomore Kirby Einck] is a really good friend of mine and we always have close battles all the time,” Ye said of her semifinal opponent. “I didn’t expect it to be as easy as I had it, but I was playing out of my mind out there.”
Ye has picked a good time to be playing some of her best tennis of the season, although her 22-1 record suggests there haven’t been many off-days for the freshman in her first season of high school tennis. Her only loss of the season was to Bartlett’s Jen Gates, whom Ye defeated in the sectional finals.
“I gave her a 3-0 lead and then I accidentally won a game,” Ye said. “I pulled through and it felt nice having a comeback and revenge from the previous match.”
Ye was part of a Sycamore team that won the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference title for the second time in three years. In the first round she will face Rockford Lutheran freshman Carly Kasicki, whom Ye said she’s had previous success against.
Hillmer is hoping Ye will get off to a good start today and match Behrens, who made it to the second day of the state tournament in 2010 before being knocked out in the fourth round of the consolation bracket.
“The second day is tough,” Sycamore coach Dave Hillmer said. “It gets pretty difficult, pretty fast. Getting to the second day is big.”
Joining Ye at the state tournament will be Kaneland sophomore Sammie Schrepferman, DeKalb senior Taylor Volk and the Kaneland doubles team of sophomores Madi Jurcenko and Jelly Emmanouil.
Volk’s path to state through the Ottawa Sectional was anything but smooth.
“My first two matches were pretty difficult,” Volk said. “I had the goal in mind that I had to finish those two matches.”
Volk twice fought back after losing the first set, rallying for three-set victories in the second and third round to secure her first trip to state.
DeKalb coach Lance Gackowski said Volk qualifying for state is a testament to her development over the past four years from an athlete to a tennis player.
“She didn’t play a lot of tennis before high school,” Gackowski said. “As she moved up on the team...she was running into girls who had a lot more tennis experience.”
Volk’s experience showed at sectionals when she changed strategies mid-match to help rally back. She is the first DeKalb state qualifier since 2004.
“I’m pretty nervous, but i’m not going in there with expectations,” Volk said. “I’m just going to try and play my best.”