It’s all about confidence for Julian Childers and Marian Catholic. Childers will help lead the Spartans into their own sectional that gets under way Friday.
“I’m about 100 percent sure we’re going to win the sectional,” Childers said.
Marian (20-2, 7-1) is still smarting from falling short at the East Suburban Catholic Conference Meet on Tuesday, which left them in third place.
“We didn’t live up to the team’s expectations,” Childers said. “Overall, the team played well.”
Childers, a senior, is looking to get downstate for the third consecutive season, and the journey begins at sectional.
“It was a very strong year again,” coach Scott Bodnar said. “They’re very talented, good team players and with good leadership.”
Childers (21-2) finished ninth in the state at No. 1 singles, while senior Mitch Zavesky and sophomore Kyle Scheffers placed 25th at doubles. Marian took 12th as a team.
“We’re hoping to qualify our other singles player and the other doubles team, something we didn’t do last year,” Bodnar said.
Zavesky will be gunning for his fourth sectional title in doubles.
“Mitch has won it every year with three different partners,” Bodnar said. “They’re very strong, they know each other very well and they’re in sync.”
Bodnar is confident in his charges as well, but he said rival Homewood-Flossmoor will be a challenge at sectional. Childers will likely have to beat H-F’s Brad Holt.
“They’re friends and have played each other the past three years,” Bodnar said. “Brad will give him a good match. They’ll be the top two seeds.”
Childers is ready for the challenge.
“I’m very confident I can win,” he said. “I know no doubt that I can beat Brad as long as I play OK.”
It’s that confidence that has made Childers a stronger player this season.
“I just have to go out and be confident and be proactive,” he said. “I have to let my opponent make the mistakes — not wait for them to make errors but to force errors so I’m not wasting energy on points that I don’t have to make.”
Bodnar added that Childers’ stamina is key.
“He’s got talent, but he works hard at what he does,” Bodnar said. “He wears people down with his strength. He’s got very good power, and he also has a nice soft shot.
“He gets his power from his legs.”
Childers upped his conditioning regimen as a senior, getting up three times a week at 5:30 a.m. to work out with a personal trainer.
“I’ve slowed down a little bit on that and have just been working on the technical aspects of my game,” he said.
Bodnar said Childers is in line to be a No. 5 or 6 seed in the state tournament.
“I think I can win state because a lot of the top guys pulled out of high school tennis,” he said. “I wasn’t really intimidated by the guys who dropped out, so I’m really looking forward to it.”