PREP TENNIS

Marian Catholic sends four to state tennis finals

2014-05-28T18:00:00Z 2014-05-29T01:07:08Z Marian Catholic sends four to state tennis finalsKenny Karrson Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 28, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

Marian Catholic's boys' tennis team proved last week that it wanted more than two out of three.

After a 22-4 regular-season record, the Spartans carried momentum into Saturday's Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional, where they captured their third team title in the last four years.

Seniors Kyle Scheffers and Patrick Murday finished first and second, respectively, among all singles players, and Marian's doubles team of seniors Paul Lamb and Sam Roche placed third overall in its category.

Homewood-Flossmoor's Devohn Hall and the doubles team of Jeremy Miller and Jesse Myles will also compete at the IHSA state tournament, which starts today and runs through Saturday. Hersey High School is the host, but matches will be held at various District 211, 214 courts.

The Illiana Christian duo of Jason Eberly and Ben Van Til will also compete.

While Marian coach Scott Bodnar was pleased with his group's sectional crown, he said this team is different than those that reached the same mark in 2011 and 2012.

"The previous two times, we were deep with talented players," he said. "This year's group is a combination of high-caliber players and the majority of the rest who just love to play, and they've jelled well."

One such high-caliber player is Scheffers, who has participated in United States Tennis Association tournaments for several years in addition to competing for the Spartans. The senior is the No. 10 seed in the state tournament. He said that since he plays tennis exclusively, as opposed to others on the Marian roster, he is able to provide assistance to his teammates.

"I'm good to hit with in practice," Scheffers said. "With me, the guys are able to play against a top player, which may help them against other teams."

While the Spartans' program has blossomed in recent years, its performances have been typically overshadowed in Illinois by such storied tennis powerhouses as Hinsdale Central and New Trier. Even so, Lamb said that lack of attention does not bother his team.

"We play a more gritty, pedal-to-the-metal game," he said. "(The powerhouses) are profound, but we're trying to make names for ourselves and start a history rather than add to it.

"We're the first names in our record book."

Roche echoed his partner's remarks that other schools' tennis histories do not have a substantial impact on how Marian's players approach the sport.

"We don't keep track of how they're doing," he said. "We want to do our best against those teams, but we (ultimately) like to represent some of the smaller schools who don't play tennis."

The Spartans will have a great opportunity to represent the south suburbs at the state meet, which begins today in Arlington Heights and is hosted by Hersey. Scheffers and Murday have previously competed at state, experience Scheffers said will be rather valuable to them this time.

"It'll help because we know the format of play and atmosphere, (as well as) who the competition will be," he said. "Our experience will also help us relax a bit."

While both singles players are familiar with the state setting, Lamb and Roche have yet to gain a similar experience. However, Lamb said he is confident that the doubles team can maintain the style of play it has executed throughout the season.

"(Sam and I) both play other sports and are natural competitors, so we have nothing to lose," he said. "We thrive off the pressure and tight competition.

"We want to go out knowing that we gave it our all."

Since all of Marian's state qualifiers are seniors, Bodnar said he expects next season to be a rebuilding year for his program.

"We won't have people who can go out and win every match," he said. "So our goal will be to find players who can adjust and play to be successful."

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