In tennis, waiting for the right opportunity can mean everything.|
Alleman's Mark McLaughlin is ready to make the most of his chance to be the Pioneers' top singles player.
A doubles player the past two seasons, McLaughlin, a junior, has made a seamless transition to singles, finishing runner-up at the the Rock Island Red Invitational on Saturday.
McLaughlin breezed through his first two matches of the day in commanding fashion.
While McLaughlin always has had a desire to play singles, his experience playing doubles has made him an even more dangerous player.
"In doubles, you use a lot of shots that you normally don't use in singles," McLaughlin said, "There's a lot of rushing the net in doubles, so I've used a lot more of my net game this season."
McLaughlin ran into a buzzsaw in the championship match, falling to Gurnee Warren's Kristiyan Trukov 6-1, 6-1.
Finishing among the top 12 at the IHSA state meet last season, Trukov presented an opportunity for McLaughlin to hone his game.
"Playing tough competition is how you get better," McLaughlin said.
Gurnee Warren (38 points) won the team title, with Alleman finishing fourth (25 points), and Rock Island eighth (11 points) in the eight-team field.
Rock Island's Jinesh Shah finished with a 6-2, 6-4 win for seventh place in No. 1 singles despite feeling some tightness in his calf.
Showing an array of talent last season, Shah is working on letting the game come to him.
"I'm understand when to go for a shot and when to wait for it the more you play," Shah said. "Before, I would go for a shot off every ball hit to me. The more you play, the more you realize you need to wait for that opportunity to go for that winner."
Alleman's Sam Gelski finished with a solid fifth-place effort in No. 2 singles with a 6-4, 6-2 win.
Rock Island freshmen Darien Ramsdale displayed great promise with a fourth-place finish.
"I think my strength is the way I play," Ramsdale said. "People don't think of me as a good player because I'm really short. I think it surprises people that I have a lot of power and speed."
In doubles, Alleman was able to maneuver its lineup, with one of its top doubles players Connor Hogan on spring vacation.The Pioneers' Joe Philibert and Sam Woeber dropped their first match of the day at No .1 doubles, but rebounded to win their next two matches to finish fifth.
"Good serves and serve returns," Woeber said. "Every point begins with one of the two."
"I try to construct points," Philibert said. "I don't let the other team dictate to me, and facing good competition in practice always helps."
Without Hogan, his regular partner, Alleman's Garret Larsen teamed withPeter Stock and the duo finished runner-up in No. 2 doubles.
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