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She’s off and running.
On the opening day of the girls state tennis meet, West Aurora’s Emily Stefancic exhibited the poise of a four-year state qualifier that she is.
The Blackhawk senior won all three of her singles matches Thursday, guaranteeing herself a top-24 finish which will earn her all-state status for the second year in a row.
“I’m looking to place, hopefully, in the top 16,” Stefancic said last weekend after claiming a sectional singles title for the second year in a row. “That would be one round ahead of where I placed last year. … The main thing is keeping my head in the game and focusing on getting the ball over one more time than the other girl does.”
She did that Thursday, topping Lincoln-Way East’s Andie Doyle 6-2, 6-1 and Hannah Blythe of Vandalia 6-1, 6-1 before running into some trouble with York Sectional champion McKenna Byrne of Timothy Christian.
Stefancic trailed 5-4 in the opening set before rallying to take nine straight games and win 7-5, 6-0. She faces 9-16 seed Carol Finke of New Trier Friday morning.
“We’re really happy, she played well almost the entire time,” said West assistant coach Neal Ormond. “She struggled in a couple spots with the wind and the cold. It was easy to have the ball blow out of bounds. The gusts were as much as 16-17-miles-per-hour and they moved up the starting time to 8 a.m. this year. The temperature was in the low 30s.”
Stefancic is the lone unbeaten entry among the area’s 14 qualifiers but won’t be alone in moving on.
Geneva junior Kirby Einck, a 17-32 seed like Stefancic, won her first two matches before dropping a 6-2, 6-1 decision to 5-8 seed Lexie Petrovic of Nazareth Academy in the third round.
Kaneland junior Samantha Schrepferman won her opening match then dropped a tough 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-3 decision to Caroline Maltby of Glenbard West. She followed with two more wins in the consolation bracket.
Oswego East senior Sajela Harlow opened with wins over Champaign Centennial’s Lauren Neitzel 6-4, 6-1 and Grant’s Gaby Schoenberg 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 before falling 7-5, 6-2 to Taylor Tamblyn of New Trier.
Harlow’s younger sister Jaiere, a sophomore, went 3-1 on the day, losing her second match to Priscilla Palermo of Glenbard East 6-0, 6-3.
Schrepferman and the Harlow sisters will both open fourth round consolation play Friday at 8 a.m. Geneva freshman Grace Krueger went 1-2 on the day and Batavia’s Nora McClure lost both her matches to fall out of the tourney.
Batavia’s No. 1 doubles team of Jenny Mizikar and Amelia Cogan, a 17-32 seed and two-time sectional champions, opened with a pair of wins before falling 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (3) to Mallory Abert-Megan LaRose of Edwardsville in the third round.
Oswego East sectional runnersup Alexis Blackmon and Leena Hwang opened with a pair of wins but then fell to Crystal Lake Central’s 3-4 seed Evelyn Youel-Jillian Wallace. The score had not been posted on the IHSA website at presstime, but Blackmon-Hwang were listed as opening Friday against an Edwardsville team already in the consolation bracket.
Rosary sectional champs Megan Conlin and Andrea Goyao opened with a 6-0, 6-1 win over Shelbyville’s Mykennah Allen-Alexis Halbrook, then dropped a 6-3, 6-4 decision to Glenbrook South’s Martina Dragoytchev-Jessica Chepurda.
The Royals’ duo then beat Downers Grove South’s Tiffany Bui-Janine Urgelio 6-2, 7-5. It sets up a third-round consolation match Friday against IMSA's Nahee Park and Emily Ling, which will be a rematch of their sectional semifinal won 6-1, 6-3 by Conlin-Goyao.
Park and Ling opened with a loss but won two consolation bouts.
The other area doubles entry in the field, Geneva’s Margo Hess and Emma Hazel, went 2-1, losing in the second round.