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Boys Tennis: Just like dad, Hinsdale Central's Joe Daw joins doubles championship club

Daw, Noah Hernandez win doubles title for team champion Red Devils; Lyons fourth

Hinsdale Central's Joe Daw (left) and Noah Hernandez won the Class 2A state tennis doubles championship on May 25.
Hinsdale Central's Joe Daw (left) and Noah Hernandez won the Class 2A state tennis doubles championship on May 25.

Joe Daw wanted to join the championship club.

The Hinsdale Central senior already had a secured a memorable tennis career, helping lead the Red Devils to a state title last season by earning a fourth-place with Ansh Shan in doubles.

Two years ago, Daw and Joseph Cunningham earned five points before losing in the fifth round consolation bracket, which led the Red Devils to a third-place trophy.

Despite all the individual and team success, Daw missed one valuable item that would help him earning family bragging rights: A first-place doubles medal.

“My dad won a doubles state title,” Daw said.

Indeed, Joe Daw had a storied career at West Aurora, winning a doubles state championship in 1977-78 and a second-place medal in the 1976-77 season. 

The younger Daw finally accomplished the individual title that had eluded him the last two seasons, joining forces with freshman Noah Hernandez to win the Class 2A state doubles title on Saturday.

Daw and Hernandez defeated Naperville Central’s Blake Roegner and Daanyal Saeed 6-1, 6-2 to end a dominating six-match state streak. The Red Devils also claimed the team title with 45 points, edging out New Trier (34), Stevenson (29) and Lyons (20).

It was Hinsdale Central's 22nd state tennis title in program history. Hinsdale Central’s Robert Danny Schmelka endured three tough matches to win the singles title, defeating Hersey’s Max Sheldon 6-3, 7-5 in the final. Hinsdale Central’s Mujtaba Ali-Khan and Rayan Nehme placed third in doubles.

Meanwhile, Daw admitted he relished ending his dad’s distinction of being the only member to win a state championship. 

“I’m just really happy. Ever since my freshman year, I’ve been dreaming of winning a doubles state title,” Daw said. “It’s kind of surreal because my dad won a doubles state title. It’s kind of crazy having that with them. Now we’re all matched up [with titles].”

Daw, a Tulane recruit, and Hernandez won all six state matches in straight sets, with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Edwardsville in the quarterfinals their only true test. Daw and Hernandez lost only one match all season, to a veteran team from Missouri.

“We just played really solid, never really missed our shots and were pretty on the ball with everything,” Daw said. “We just played our game and did well. Noah was great all year. He came into the season with a perfect game for playing doubles. He has amazing hands and super great volleys. All we really had to do was some minor things with strategy.”

Lyons showed some promise to contend for a state title next season after placing fourth with a team with three sophomores and three seniors.

Sophomore Dominick Cuchran, who placed second in 2A singles last season, defeated Highland Park’s Jeremy Learner 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the third-place match on Saturday.

“Third was a great performance by Dominick,” Lyons coach Bill Wham said. “Dominick has the objective of trying to win state as a junior and senior. He has all the tools to do it. He played a lot of basketball, got stronger and faster and covers the court well. His serves are better and he plays really well on the forehand side.”

Wham said his team can make some noise next season, especially with sophomore Ryan Cahill gaining valuable experience by playing in three state singles matches. 

The doubles team of Owen O’Connor and Luke Schlender wrapped up a four-year career by netting four points by winning three of their five matches.

“We’re a pretty young team and we had a strong season,” Wham said. “As a team, we should be in pretty good shape next year. But of all years I’ve done this, this is one of the most enjoyable and really balanced teams.”

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