Boys Tennis: Hubs shut out Sterling Newman in season finale

Freshman Mark Green lunges for a forehand shot during the Rochelle Hub varsity tennis match against Sterling Newman on Thursday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle carrying three-match winning streak into Interstate 8 tournament

ROCHELLE — A shutout win over Sterling Newman on Thursday has the Rochelle Hub varsity tennis team rolling into the Interstate 8 Conference Championship tournament on a hot streak.

Looking for their third consecutive victory as well as their third win in four days, the Hubs took control early and never looked back, sweeping the Comets 5-0 behind a trio of straight-set victories. Rochelle (12-6, 1-4 Interstate 8) took both singles matches on Thursday, with junior Parker Lenkaitis cruising over Ryan Partington 6-3, 6-0 at No. 1 singles. Junior Jimmy Chavez outlasted Hiram Zigler in a third-set tiebreaker to secure a 6-3, 3-6, 10-8 win at No. 2 singles.

“I feel that our confidence is really high right now and we’re going into the conference tournament thinking that we can win the whole thing,” Lenkaitis said. “We just want to maintain this confidence and keep on rolling... Moving from doubles to singles was a lot for me to work on, but I’m finally getting used to it and I’ve started to win more matches. I’ve been hitting the ball more consistently and I think that moving to singles has helped me with my consistency.”

The Hubs held a 2-0 lead over Sterling Newman after two swift victories in doubles play on Thursday. Senior Paul Swartz and freshman Mark Green took care of business on the No. 3 doubles court, winning 6-2, 6-1 against Andrew Downs and Sam Neisewander. At the same time, seniors John Green and Nolan Fonfara were closing out a dominant win over Carson Palmer and Raul Reyes, who the Hubs took down 6-1, 6-1 on the No. 2 doubles court.

After Lenkaitis defeated Partington to secure the team win for the Hubs, Rochelle sealed the nonconference sweep over the Comets during the final two varsity matches. The Hubs took a 4-0 lead when seniors David Wanner and Owen Haas overcame their first-set loss against Logan Palmer and JP Ryan to take home a 3-6, 6-4, 10-7 victory at the No. 1 doubles court. Chavez scored the final point of the match with his three-set win against Zigler in singles.

“I think we’re exactly where we should be going into the conference meet this weekend,” Haas said. “We had a bit of a rough patch earlier in the season, but we’re coming together nicely. I think David and I can make another run at the conference title and we definitely want to make it to the state tournament… We played at our own tempo today and we slowed down when things weren’t looking too good for us. We continued to stay positive and talk with each other.”

Rochelle will travel to Ottawa for the Interstate 8 Conference tournament on Saturday before hosting the IHSA 1A Sectional at Rochelle Township High School next Friday and Saturday.