Boys Tennis: Hubs bow out at IHSA 1A Rochelle Sectional

Senior Jason Zheng won two matches to lead the Rochelle Hub varsity tennis team in the IHSA 1A Rochelle Sectional on Friday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Zheng wins two matches, scores four points as Rochelle ties for eighth place

ROCHELLE — A successful season came to a conclusion for the Rochelle Hub varsity tennis team Friday evening, when the purple and white hosted the IHSA 1A Rochelle Sectional.

Senior Jason Zheng led Rochelle in the singles tournament, winning two matches and scoring all four points for the Hubs, who tied for eighth place out of 11 schools in the sectional meet. But with no winners elsewhere, Rochelle (12-3, 4-0 Interstate 8) will not send any players to the IHSA State Championship. Zheng fell 0-6, 0-6 against Geneseo's Alex Slaymaker in the third round, falling one win short of qualifying.

“I’m really proud of how our kids played today,” head coach Kristy Eckardt said. “David [Wanner] and Owen [Haas] drew the No. 1 seed in the doubles bracket and they battled throughout that entire match. John [Green] and Peter [Forsberg] were able to overcome a first-set loss and take their match to a third set. We played good tennis and it was nice to go out the way we did.”

Zheng began his tournament run in the first round, cruising over Freeport’s No. 1 singles athlete Nate Wilks 6-3, 6-2. The Hub senior faced a tougher challenge in the second round, where he faced the No. 1 singles player from Rock Falls, Dawson Newendyke. After conceding the first set, Zheng fought back to split the match before outlasting his opponent in the third set to seal a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

“I’m so proud of how Jason played today,” Eckardt said. “We knew Jason had a chance to win the first match and then going against a second-round opponent who’s played No. 1 singles all season while Jason’s been our No. 2 singles player, I thought he battled back and played really outstanding tennis. We knew the top four seeds in the singles tournament were extremely tough, but Jason went toe-to-toe with some of the players around here and I’m proud of him.”

Senior Alex Gilbert also competed in the singles tournament, falling 2-6, 3-6 against Dixon’s Grant Boss in the second round. Juniors David Wanner and Owen Haas showed resiliency in their second-round doubles match against Geneseo’s Samuel Robinson and Connor Nelson, falling just short in a 1-6, 4-6 loss. Junior John Green and Peter Forsberg also bowed out during the second round, conceding a 2-6, 6-4, 4-6 loss against Alleman’s Connor Anderson and Lincoln Dorsey.