Up 4-2 in the third set of the IHSA Tennis Finals last fall, Lyons Township junior Alex Chatt was just two games away from becoming the second state singles champion in LT history (Margie Lepsi won state titles in 1990, 1992).
Instead, Morgan Park’s Jerricka Boone reeled off four games to pull out a dramatic 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 decision en route to her second state championship. As a No. 3-4 seed, Chatt won six matches in convincing fashion at the state event hosted by Prospect to set up her showdown with Boone in the singles final.
Both players return this season as serious contenders to claim distinction as 2012 State champion. Regarding LT overall, which tied with five other schools for eighth place at state last season, Chatt and No. 2 singles player/sophomore Kristin Thoms provide a formidable one-two punch in the Lions’ singles rotation.
“Alex is a very smart, determined player,” LT coach Bill Wham said. “Kristin is similar to Alex in many ways. Both players are so driven. They primarily play along the baseline because they hit such a heavy ball, but they also can take the net and volley.”
Freshman Stefana Vasic, another nationally-ranked player, appears poised to make an impact at No. 3 singles.
While Wham is still tinkering with the Lions’ doubles teams, Annie Wiesemann, Maggie Schwartz, Samantha Sherman, Maeve Plunkett, and Meghan Hickey are a talented, experienced quintet expected to see the most action in tandem play.
“I like the fact we have a young team that’s willing to work,” said Wham, entering his 11th campaign coaching LT. “It’s not like we have eight or nine seniors who maybe tend to do things their way. We have a nice mixture of kids from all classes who can contribute.”
LT is already off to another fast start this season with a 4-1 record and third place finish at the Glenbrook South invite. Per usual, Wham keeps the Lions’ early season efforts in perspective.
“I don’t want our kids playing their best tennis in August and September,” he said. “It’s a growing process. The kids prepare to play their best tennis at three events: the conference tournament, sectional and state tournament. Those are the three that matter the most.”
Within the West Suburban (Silver) Conference, the Lions are hoping to push Hinsdale Central for the league crown. The dominant Red Devils, who tallied 39 points to edge New Trier (28 points) en route to a team state championship last season, also have won 18 of the last 19 conference titles.
“Hinsdale Central is the [conference] matchup we shoot for,” Wham said. “We could see them four times in conference, the conference tournament, sectional and state so it’s always a great challenge for us.”