Dave Hillmer first saw Angelina Ye on the tennis courts when she was just 4 years old.
Ye’s family would be playing on the Sycamore High School tennis courts, and Hillmer often stopped by to chat, hoping to catch the interest of a girl who might later play for him at Sycamore.
By the time Ye was in seventh grade, Hillmer brought her out to hit with state qualifier Veronica Behrens. It would be good experience for Ye, who was coming into her own as a young tennis player, but Hillmer also wanted competition for Behrens. The five-year age difference didn’t matter to him.
“I could see it coming that in two to three years Angelina was going to be there,” Hillmer said. “And she came a little quicker than I thought, actually.”
Ye didn’t need much time to make an impact in her first year of high school tennis. As a freshman, Ye posted a record of 26-3, winning the Northern Illinois Big 12 singles title and the St. Charles East Sectional championship while qualifying for the state tournament. There, she became the first Sycamore player to make it to the third day, winning her first three matches before losing to the eventual state champion, Keisha Clousing.
For all of her accomplishments, Ye was named the Daily Chronicle Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
“State was a blast,” Ye said. “I played at the top of my game all three days. I tried my best and it turned out the way I wanted it to.”
Ye will continue playing over the offseason and said she already is looking forward to her sophomore year.
“The season was just phenomenal,” Ye said. “We went undefeated for the first time, we won conference. I couldn’t ask for a better team and I couldn’t ask for a better season.”
But Hillmer said Ye is far from her peak as a player and that Ye has what it takes to be a state champion.
“I think she’s a possible Top 1 or 2 contender,” Hillmer said. “She loves the game so much, if she continues to grow, she hits the ball every bit as hard as anybody she played against.”
ALL-AREA GIRLS TENNIS TEAM
Schrepferman followed a stellar freshman campaign with a 28-3 record in the regular season. She took second place in No. 1 singles at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference meet, losing to Ye in the finals, and qualified for the state tournament by finishing fourth at the St. Charles East Sectional.
Volk became the first DeKalb girls tennis player to qualify for the state tournament since 2004. The senior fought back from one-set deficits in the Ottawa Sectional to take fourth place, winning the final qualifying spot.
Ye improved as the season went on, gaining confidence as she played more matches against better competition. She won the NI Big 12 title at No. 1 singles and then backed it up with a singles championship in the St. Charles East Sectional. The freshman became the first Sycamore tennis player to make it to the third day of the state tournament. She won her first three matches before losing to eventual state champion Keisha Clousing from Wheaton Warrenville South. Ye was named second-team All-State.
Madi Jurcenko and Jelly Emmanouil
After playing singles last year, Emmanouil teamed with Jurcenko to post a 31-0 regular-season doubles record. They won the NI Big 12 Conference title at No. 1 doubles and took third in the St. Charles East Sectinal to qualify for the state tournament. The pair won its first two matches in the state tournament before falling in the third round. They won two more matches in the consolation bracket and finished with a 4-2 record at state.
Caitlin Mereness and Aspen Paulsen
Mereness and Paulsen were part of a strong Spartans team that won the NI Big 12 team championship and posted a 16-1-1 record during the regular season. The seniors took fourth in the conference tournament after finishing with a strong regular-season record at No. 1 doubles.
– Ross Jacobson, firstname.lastname@example.org