New Trier's Finke continues comeback, rules sectional

Junior singles ace leads 6 state qualifiers for 2011 runner-up Trevians

By Dennis Mahoney
October 13, 2012 07:18 PM

Anyone doubting whether Carol Finke has made a complete comeback from a wrist injury should have seen the New Trier junior in the singles finals of the New Trier Sectional tennis tournament Saturday at Glenview Tennis Club.

Finke was near the top of her game – and she had to be against teammate Taylor Tamblyn.

Finke defeated Tamblyn 6-0, 6-2 in a finale that was more competitive than usual when two players from New Trier meet in the finals of a postseason tournament. She qualified for the next week’s state meet for the third straight year and sparked the Trevians to the team title with 27 points to 19 for runner-up Loyola Academy. Rain forced the tourney finals to be moved indoors.

New Trier will send a full complement of players to the three-day state meet hosted by Buffalo Grove, with doubles champs Cammie Frei and Kirstie Woodbury and third-place finishers Lily Schroeder and Alex Wolkoff also advancing. The top four sectional finishers in singles and doubles advanced.

Finke’s return from a wrist injury that sidelined her for more than a month has given New Trier’s hopes of challenging for a state team trophy a definite boost. Before overpowering teammate Tamblyn, she didn’t lose a single game in 6-0, 6-0 victories over Megan Whitehouse of Niles North, Madison Morgensai of North Shore Country Day and Hannah Post of Loyola.

Finke dropped the first game of the second set against Tamblyn, then won six of the next seven to repeat as sectional champ.

Over the years a matchup of two players from the same New Trier team in the finale – with both players already assured of state tournament berths --- hasn’t necessarily featured the best tennis from either. But it was clear from the start Saturday that both Finke and Tamblyn were determined to win.

“I was trying not to focus on winning or losing today,” said Finke, whose injury has prevented her from even playing much against Tamblyn in practice. “I just focused on trying to play my best to help both of us get ready for state. I wanted to play loose and just give Taylor a really good match. It was a great opportunity for a great match for both of us. You need a few quality matches to be ‘match tough’ for the state tournament.

“My wrist feels really good right now and I felt like I really served well today. Later in the match I was able to take advantage and come to the net a few times, too. I love to do that. But the goal today was just to make each other better.”

Tamblyn, a sophomore, advanced with triumphs over Jessica Krysik of CICS-Northtown (6-0, 6-0), Gabi Rivera of Evanston (6-0, 6-0) and Hannah Nichols of Loyola (6-2, 6-1) while raising her team-best record to 17-4 on the season.

“I knew it’d be a little different playing a teammate in the finals, and Carol and I are good friends,” Tamblyn said. “It was a good match for me because now I definitely see what I need to work on. I wasn’t really making as many shots as I usually do today. I was a little off and I was hitting my backhand pretty flat. I had a lot of unforced errors and I missed more shots than I should have.”

In doubles, Woodbury and Frei combined for a 6-2, 6-2 thumping of Loyola’s Jennie Gault and Nora Hughes in the first-place match. Schroeder and Wolkoff, who lost to Gault/Hughes 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals, bounced back to trip Loyola’s other entry of Kristin Marren and Meredith O’Brien 6-1, 6-0 for third place.

Woodbury and Frei have only played a total of 14 matches (12-2 overall record) together this fall, but the senior and freshman are growing as a unit and their on-court chemistry could lead to a deep run against the state’s elite next week. Before winning the title, they also eliminated Kate Gillespie and Sabina Kim of Northside College Prep (6-1, 6-0) and beat Marren/O’Brien 6-2, 6-1.

More familiarity with their partners has led to more aggressive play from both Woodbury and Frei, according to New Trier coach Jerry Morse-Karzen.

“You want to be peaking for the state tournament, and right now I think Kirstie and Cammie are playing their best tennis,” Morse-Karzen said. “Cammie’s getting better at coming to the net and Kirstie’s been more aggressive, too. They really looked good today.”

“It’s exciting to win the sectional, but you have to go in ready for the state tournament most of all,” Woodbury said. “I think this shows how far we’ve come as a team. Each match we’ve played this year has helped me put my whole game together. Today I was really driving the ball well, and I think Cammie and I are playing well together. We know a little more now how each other will play, and how we can complement each other.

“Next week we’ll just take it one point at a time, one match at a time. I think we can beat a lot of people no matter what our seed is, if we play our best.”

“The main goal today was to get everyone through to the state tournament, and we did that,” Morse-Karzen pointed out. “Having Carol back gives us a big thumper at the top of our lineup. We were a good team without her, but we’re a better team with her in there. All of a sudden we have a singles lineup that can match up with any other team. She’s been great for us, and it gives you extra confidence as a team to have a player like that at her level come back to the lineup.

“When we have two girls play each other, like Carol and Taylor did, we want them to go hard and make their teammate better. Carol needed the competition, she needed to be tested after being out for so long.  I think Carol still feels it in her wrist, but she very much wanted to come back and be a part of this lineup. She’s really a team player.”

Morse-Karzen also relished the fact that the defending state runner-up Trevians will send a full team to state despite the fact that Finke is the only one with postseason experience remaining on the roster after four girls who qualified previously decided not to play for the high school team this fall.

“We had some positions open up for other girls to step up, and it’s been a pleasure for me to see them do that,” Morse-Karzen said. “Especially when the perception was that without those other girls, we wouldn’t be as good this year. That perception is no longer there. (Defending champ)Hinsdale Central, Lake Forest and Stevenson will be the favorites at state this year, and deservedly so, but we’ve come a long way as a team and we’ve closed the gap on them. It’s been a very successful season.”

Two other Central Suburban League teams, Evanston and Niles North, also competed at the sectional. The Wildkits placed third in the team standings with eight points, as freshman Ampel opened with a 6-0, 6-0 blanking of Northside Prep’s Sarah Parks before being ousted in a 6-3, 6-0 loss to Loyola’s Post.
Rivera contributed a 6-2, 6-0 singles win over Julie Hammond of Regina Dominican before losing to Tamblyn. In doubles, the Evanston team of Sammi Warner and Isabel Avery scored a first-round victory (6-0, 6-1) over Kathleen Russell/Liza Burlingame of Regina, then lost 6-3, 6-1 to the Loyola duo of Gault and Hughes.

Niles North’s only two team points came when the doubles team of April Hernandez/Dianne Maglaque blanked Michelle Bozenda/Jisselle Servillion of Northside Prep 6-0, 6-0. New Trier’s Schroeder and Wolkoff ended the Vikings’ duo’s season  6-0, 6-0 in the second round.