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Hinsdale Central tennis takes state, sets new standard for team excellence

Red Devils’ send five of six state qualifiers to championship matches, finish comfortably ahead of competition

Bill Ackerman –
Hinsdale Central's Martin Joyce returns a shot May 23 at Hersey High School en route to winning the singles state title.
Bill Ackerman – Hinsdale Central's Martin Joyce returns a shot May 23 at Hersey High School en route to winning the singles state title.

HINSDALE – It doesn’t get much better than that.

Hinsdale Central’s boys tennis team achieved its seasonlong goal, winning its 22nd state championship and second in a row, but this one was a record-setter.

Three of the four entrants in the state championship matches belonged to the Red Devils, and two titles helped them set a new record with 59 team points of a possible 64.

“Going into the tournament it didn’t matter,” sophomore singles champion Martin Joyce said of setting the record. “But by the end of the day Friday we knew we had won it, so Saturday we were all really relaxed, and with all of us being in the semis our goal was to set the team record.”

“During the tournament we were all really competitive and all focused on winning matches,” sophomore Eddie Grabill said. “All of our guys were.”

In the first state tournament appearance for both, Grabill and senior Harold Martin teamed up to win the doubles title with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 victory over defending state champions and senior teammates Alex Hagermoser and Peter Heneghan. It was Martin and Grabill’s second win over Hagermoser and Heneghan in three tries (Martin and Grabill also won the sectional title over their teammates), and there was nothing easy about it.

“They were the No. 1 seed so I kind of knew if we were going to get to the finals we were probably going to have to play them, given their draw,” Martin said.

“It was harder playing your friends because you hate to see them lose but at the same time we wanted to win that match pretty badly,” Grabill said. “It’s hard to cheer against them because we’re good friends.”

The state tennis tournament is scattered over more than a dozen sites across the northwest suburbs, but when the finals matches rolled around Saturday afternoon it was easy for Central’s six state finalists, which included Joyce and sophomore Michael Lorenzini, to keeps tabs on one another.

“We knew. We had our phones out. Everybody was calling each other and our coach was always giving us updates, so we kind of knew how everybody was doing,” Martin said. “Once it got to Saturday, we were all at the same site together, which was pretty cool.”

Joyce played just two three-set matches at state, once in the round of 16 (where he topped Rockford Auburn’s Brendan Metzler 4-6, 6-3, 6-2) and again in his 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 championship win over Waubonsie Valley’s Eric Marbach.

Pinpoint serving carried Joyce early in the tourney, but fitness helped him later on, especially in the championship match.

“I was able to get off the court pretty quick in the semis, and Eric had a long match,” Joyce said. “Then we played a long final match, and I think my fitness level played a big part. I wasn’t getting tired late in matches.”

Lorenzini suffered a tough 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7) defeat to Marbach in the semifinals, but bounced back strong with a 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-1 win over St. Charles East’s Jasper Koenen in the third-place match.

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