Finke adds retro look to New Trier's sectional sweep

Sophomore wears mom's old jacket on way to singles crown

By Dennis Mahoney
October 15, 2011 07:36 PM

Carol Finke wasn’t even born when New Trier West existed as a separate high school from New Trier East back in the 1980s.

But the Trevians’ sophomore singles star added a retro look to the New Trier Sectional tennis tournament on Saturday at the A.C. Nielsen courts in Winnetka as she won her second straight sectional championship and led a full contingent of New Trier qualifiers into next week’s state tournament.

Finke dealt with the gusty conditions by wearing a windbreaker that said “New Trier West tennis” on the back, a relic she inherited from her mother, Lisa. Mrs. Finke – known by her maiden name of Lisa Gollob back in her prime – scored a pair of top three state finishes in doubles in 1980 and 1981 competing for New Trier West.

The younger Finke used that history lesson to score a 6-0, 6-0 victory over teammate Anna Kaplan in the singles finale Saturday. The doubles championship also featured an all-New Trier pairing, with Emily Barretta and Gabby Nixon rallying from behind to defeat fellow Trevians Rebecca Ritchie and Alana Peters by a 6-4, 6-1 margin.

New Trier repeated as team champion with 36 points to 19 for runner-up Loyola Academy. Evanston placed fourth in the eight-team field with eight points, but didn’t advance anyone in singles or doubles.

“I guess you could say it was a retro look,” said Finke, who improved to 19-3 on the season and could land a top eight seed for the three-day state finals. “My mom let me wear it now and then throughout the season, although there really weren’t many days I needed it. She found it at the end of last year and you can tell that she had taken good care of it. I think she was saving it for me all these years. There aren’t many of these still around.”

Finke, the No. 1 seed, only lost two games in the three matches she played on Friday and Saturday. She opened with a 6-0, 6-0 blanking of Annie Morris of North Shore Country Day, then advanced past Loyola’s Devon Hubbard 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals.

She had no trouble disposing of teammate Kaplan in the finals. Kaplan had advanced with wins over Jasmin Madrid of Lake View (6-1, 6-0) and Alex Bergman of North Shore (6-1, 6-2).

“Wearing this jacket reminds me that I represent my family, my coaches and my school,” Finke said. “It’s just an honor to represent New Trier at state and to have all of my teammates there, too. I think that speaks to just how hard we’ve all worked.

“Last year when I got to the fourth round (at state) I was pretty tired, and I lost. So ever since then I’ve worked really hard on my fitness. That will give me more power on my shots, too. Now that I’m more fit that’s given me a lot more confidence. I feel prepared for the state tournament now. A good finish for me? Just making sure every point I play is my best point possible. If you can control what you do, then whatever happens, happens. But right now I feel like I’m playing my best tennis.”

Finke will make her second straight trip to the singles portion of the tournament. Both Barretta and Ritchie are making return trips with new partners after helping to lead the Trevians to third place at state last year.

Barretta and Nixon, a sophomore, trailed 4-1 in the first set of the doubles championship match Saturday before turning the match around against their No. 2-seeded teammates. The pair earlier scored victories against Sabina Kim and Kate Gillespie of Northside College Prep (6-0, 6-0) and Jenni Gault and Nora Hughes of Loyola (6-1, 6-1).

Ritchie and Peters advanced with triumphs over Jessica Krysik and Stephanie Enriquez of Northtown Academy (6-0, 6-0) and Meredith Abrahamson and Hannah Post of Loyola (6-3, 6-1).

As usual, the Trevians’ postseason lineup wasn’t settled until after the Central Suburban League South tournament, and both Nixon and Peters had to fend off challenges to make the top six.

For Peters, just making the lineup was especially sweet. She qualified for state in singles two years ago as a sophomore, but couldn’t crack the lineup as a junior.

And she hadn’t played much doubles until this past summer, either.

“I wanted to play singles last year, but our team was really strong and there were two players who were a little better than I was. And I didn’t have the doubles skills I have now,” Peters said. “I just played a lot of doubles tournaments and tried to improve my all-around game. Rebecca and I only had one match together before the conference, because we were shuffling players around all year. But I really like doubles and I think we complement each other well.

“I try to use my singles skills to hit a lot of cross-court shots to give Rebecca a chance to finish at the net. I played with a lot of older men and some guys at North Shore Racquet Club and worked a lot with coach (Bill) Lang and coach (Jerry) Karzen. The guys really hit hard, and that helped me develop my reflexes. I think Rebecca and I are working together better and better. I do want to be a little more aggressive at the net because sometimes subconsciously I revert to that singles mentality of trying to set up points, instead of just putting points away.”

New Trier coach Allison Rose thinks her team is primed for a big finish after earning eighth in 2008, fifth in 2009 and third in 2010.

“It’s a privilege and an accomplishment for us to be there again,” Rose said. “I think if we give our best effort, the (team) points will speak for themselves. They all still have things they want to work on and we want to be sharp for next Thursday.

“Overall, it was a good sectional for us. Carol’s such a fighter that any girl who beats her really has to fight for those points. She worked hard to add the conditioning piece this year and that’s something that can only add to a player’s game. She’s been steady and consistent for us all year.

“Alana’s consistent play in singles is what made us think she might be a good balance for Rebecca in doubles. Rebecca is so strong at the net, so we felt Alana would complement her nicely. They’re both senior captains who are really good competitors and good people on and off the court for us.”


The Wildkits’ doubles teams were both eliminated in the quarterfinals. Caroline Cary and Lydia Collins, who were seeded in the top four, bowed to Loyola’s Gault and Hughes 6-1, 7-5, while teammates Sammi Warner and Isabel Avery were ousted by Abrahamson and Post of Loyola, 6-1, 6-0.

“I can’t believe it’s over,” Cary said. “I definitely think it was nerves that cost us that first set.”

“We worked all season to get to this point, and there was a lot of pressure on us,” added Collins. “But we came back on a lot of match points in that second set.”

First-year Evanston coach Joyce Anderson agreed that it wasn’t a typical performance by her No. 1 doubles team.

“They put so much pressure on themselves that they played tight in the first set,” Anderson said. “They just weren’t themselves. They started to have fun and enjoy it a little more in that second set, but Loyola just played better.

“I think they peaked in the middle of the season, hit a little lull and then came back up at the end. They’re great leaders for our team and our school, and I’m so proud of them. And our No. 2 team improved a ton this year. They were huge underdogs against Loyola, but they came out and played really well today.”

In singles, Evanston’s Lanie Berk lost to Joanna Kim of North Shore Country Day 6-0, 6-0 in the first round. Gabrielle Rivera knocked out Northtown’s Tinu Ajibola 6-0, 6-0, then was sidelined with a 6-1, 6-0 defeat against Hannah Nichols of Loyola.