WA Boys Tennis Writes Final Chapter of Storybook Season with Top 4 Finish at State! - Wheaton Academy

July 30, 2018

WA Boys Tennis Writes Final Chapter of Storybook Season with Top 4 Finish at State!

After securing Wheaton Academy’s best tennis season ever, including an undefeated team record, numerous team and individual flight championships at the St. Charles East Invite, the Centennial Doubles Invite and the Naper Valley Invite, a repeat Conference Championship, only its second Sectional Championship of all time, and six State Qualifiers for the first time in its history, it was hard to imagine the Warriors being able to secure a State result that would be fitting as the final chapter of its storybook season. However, just as they have done all season, the 2018 Warriors once again exceeded all expectations by closing the book on the 2018 Season with the most State wins (17) of any 1A team in a State Finals Tournament, as the only 1A team receiving All-State Honors by all six of its State Qualifiers (Ty KrillOwen SetranDevin GreenoTristan HilsonGraham Shelton and Jacob Williams), as one of only two teams with five of its State Qualifiers finishing in the Top 10 (Krill, Setran, Greeno, Hilson and Shelton) and with a 4th Place Trophy in the Final Team Standings!!!
On Thursday, Illinois’s most elite high school tennis players descended upon the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago to put their skills to the test in a pair of three-day, 64 draw tournaments (one singles and one doubles) against the best of the best from all across the State of Illinois.  Out of the 150 Class 1A schools who participated in the State Tournament Series last weekend at Sectionals, 74 schools made it to State this weekend represented by a total of 192 young men (out of the over 2,000 students who played 1A tennis this year).  Of those 74 schools, 44 of them were represented by a single player or doubles team in this year’s State Championship.  On the other end of the spectrum, Wheaton Academy was one of 30 schools who were able to qualify multiple representatives for the State Singles or State Doubles Finals and was one of only a handful of schools able to advance its entire Sectional team to State.  Senior Co-Captain Ty Krill and freshman Jacob Williams represented the Warriors in the State Singles Finals, and the doubles teams of junior Owen Setran and sophomore Graham Shelton, as well as sophomores Devin Greeno and Tristan Hilson, represented the Warriors in the State Doubles Finals.

On Day 1 of the tournament, the WA doubles teams shook off some early jitters to ensure that the Warriors got off to a strong start by making quick work of their first-round matches.  #9-16 seed Owen and Graham cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over their opponents from Chicago University-Lab, while Devin and Tristan did the same winning 6-2, 6-1 over their opponents from Chatham-Glenwood.  Ty Krill kept the roll going for WA when he displayed superior skills in the singles draw to outmatch his first round opponent from Centennial-Champaign 6-1, 6-2.  Jacob Williams was the last Warrior to take the courts, and he did so against an extremely tough 9-16 seed from Chicago De La Salle.  The momentum in the match swung wildly as Jacob took the first set 6-2, only to see his senior De La Salle opponent fight back and take the second set 1-6.  Both players found their groove early in the third set treating courtside fans to some compelling tennis, but Jacob was able to secure a late service break and outlast Richardson with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 victory to complete a perfect 4-0 opening round for WA.

The second round of the tournament delivered a much-needed reprieve for Jacob after his grueling first-round win, so he returned to one of his favorite pastimes, “snacking at Chip’s bagel factory,” and delivered up a 6-0, 6-0 double bagel win over his opponent from Mt. Vernon to advance to Day 2 of State.  Jacob’s WA teammates, on the other hand, were starting to experience the depth of talent in the State field when Owen and Graham faced off against a solid doubles team from Prairie Ridge, and Ty Krill was confronted by a quality opponent from Peoria Christian. The WA boys were forced to scramble a bit, but each of them pulled out the first set 6-4 and then pulled away from the competition to secure second-round wins. Ty won 6-4, 6-0, and Owen and Graham advanced to Friday with a 6-4, 6-1 victory.

That left only the WA doubles team of Devin and Tristan still fighting for a spot in the Day 2 field… and fight they would.  As a (surprisingly) unseeded doubles team, Devin and Tristan were forced to go to battle in the second round against one of the best doubles teams in the State, the 3-4 seed Batka Brothers from Montini.  Devin and Tristan came out strong and traded service games with their opponents to remain on serve through 2-3 in the first set.  However, in the sixth game of the match, Devin aggravated a previous groin injury from Sectionals when he had to stop suddenly chasing a ball into the side fence.  A medical trainer was called onto the court, and after 10 minutes of treatment, Devin decided to give it a go.  It was the State Finals after all, and he knew Tristan and the entire WA team were counting on him to give everything he had.

Montini picked up the next couple of games to put WA in a 2-5 hole.  However, Devin and Tristan (who took his doubles game to a whole new level with his partner ailing) showed that they have a special “Warrior Mode” at their disposal when needed, and they came storming back against the Batkas to get back on serve at 4-5.  Montini responded though, showing why they were worthy of a top 3 seed at State closing out the first set 4-6. The teams continued to battle into the second set trading blows like two heavyweight fighters, and the Warriors even broke 6’6″ Thomas Batka to grab a 3-2 lead. Once again, however, the Batkas showed the elite skills and amazing chemistry that would ultimately lead them to a 3rd Place Finish at State as they roared back to take the next four games and the match 4-6, 3-6. The second round loss was disappointing for Devin and Tristan as it dropped them into the back draw, but they would still have one more chance to advance to Day 2 of State, and they were intent on making the most of that opportunity.

After a short 20 minute break between matches (during which time Devin received further treatment on his leg), the WA doubles team retook the courts against a team from Dixon who quickly learned that Devin and Tristan’s intense desire to join their teammates on Day 2 of State was not going to be denied. Devin and Tristan locked into Warrior Mode from the first serve of the match and cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 victory in less than 45 minutes to secure their invitation to State Friday. Their win also left Wheaton Academy at the very top of the team standings at the end of Day 1 and put WA in elite company as one of only two teams (Chicago University-Lab being the other) to have its entire Sectional Team of Krill, Setran, Greeno, Hilson, Shelton and Williams still playing as the calendar turned to Day 2 of the State Finals.

Waking up on Friday, the Warriors knew that their stellar work on Thursday had positioned themselves to compete for Wheaton Academy’s first ever Top-5 finish at the State Tennis Finals. However, they also knew that the climb to the top was going to get steep as only the top half of those who made it to State advanced to Day 2.  This was no more apparent than in Owen and Graham’s first match on Friday when they faced off against the #1 seed and eventual 2018 State Champion U-High Normal.  The Wheaton Academy duo displayed incredible athletic ability as they looked to upset the eventual champion. However, Josh Friesen and Carter Burk of U-High responded with the firepower of not only the highest ranked team at State but also one of the best high school doubles teams in the Nation.  Owen and Graham pushed a number of games to deuce, but unfortunately U-High Normal captured the key points on their way to a 6-2, 6-1 victory that dropped Owen and Graham to the back draw.

Wheaton Academy Senior and 4-Time State Qualifier Ty Krill faced a similarly difficult challenge in his first match of Day 2.  Ty (a 9-16 seed) stepped up to the challenge and played some of his best tennis of the season as he traded one haymaker after another with the 3-4 seed Nick Welker of Burlington Central.  However, the eventual 3rd Place Finisher (who had given up only 2 games the entire first day of State) ultimately continued his charge through the draw by taking the match 6-3, 6-4, which handed Ty his first loss of the tournament.

Things were not any easier for the Warriors on the other half of the singles draw where Wheaton Academy freshman Jacob Williams had to face off against the 5-8 seed Andy Graf of Mascoutah, who would eventually take 4th Place at State.  Jacob came out looking like a seasoned veteran going toe to toe with Graf.  However, the Mascoutah standout relied on a mix of elite talent and prior State experience to overcome Jacob’s relentless play to take the first set 6-2. Jacob continued to grind in the second set and was hanging in the match until he tweaked his hamstring at 2-4. When Jacob was still struggling after a medical timeout, he retired from the match (losing 2-6, 2-4) and withdrew from the remainder of the State tournament.  Jacob finished his freshman season with an incredible 30-5 record, 3rd Team All-State Honors, and loads of promise for the future.

With Wheaton Academy reeling a bit from three straight losses (to eventual 1st, 3rd, and 4th Place Finishers) and the loss of Jacob, it was up to Devin and Tristan to steady the ship as they took the court for their 4th match of the tournament. Another team of brothers, the Saxena’s from Peoria-Richwoods, awaited.  The Warriors started out fast despite still being banged up after Day 1 and took the first set 6-1.  However, understanding that every match in the back draw is an elimination match, the Saxena Brothers rallied to take the second set 6-2. That set up a 10-point super match tiebreaker to determine who would stay alive in the State Finals.  After a timeout by both teams, Devin and Tristan accepted the challenge thrown down by their WA coach and cruised through the tiebreaker to take the match 6-1, 2-6, 10-4 and advance to the fourth round of the back draw alongside WA teammates Ty, Owen, and Graham.

Encouraged by his earlier performance against Welker and sensing that Devin and Tristan’s 3-set victory over Peoria-Richwoods had gotten Wheaton Academy back on track, Ty proved that he was not done adding to his career win total (the highest in WA history) when he triumphed 6-4, 6-3 in a back and forth match against a very high-quality opponent, Thomas Harris, from Country Club Hillcrest High.  The win advanced Ty into the 5th round of the State Finals back draw.

With a new WA win streak firmly established, it was Owen and Graham’s turn to capitalize on the momentum as they bounced back nicely from the tough loss to U-High Normal.  Mattoon did what they could to stave off elimination, but the 9-16 seed Warriors put the pedal to the metal and then never let up until they had ended Mattoon’s tournament and advanced to the 5th round of the back draw with a commanding 6-2, 6-1 win.

With 9-16 seeds Ty KrillOwen Setran and Graham Shelton having already advanced to the next round, Devin and Tristan knew that the opportunity they had been waiting upon had arrived.  Quite surprisingly, Devin and Tristan had been passed over when the IHSA seeding committee had handed out seeds prior to the tournament despite their 25-4 record. However, one of the great things about the IHSA State Finals is that you always have a chance to earn your seed on the courts by winning your way through the back draw, and that’s exactly what they did. It was clear from the first serve of the match that Devin and Tristan had something to prove as they came out on fire and cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 victory over their 9-16 seed opponents from Bloomington High. The convincing win over Bloomington not only advanced Devin and Tristan to the final round of Day 2 alongside their WA teammates, it proved that they had put the early loss to the 3-4 seed Montini behind them and were now a team to be reckoned with in this year’s State Finals.

The 5th round of the back draw brought not only another round of seeded competition for the Warriors but also on-court temperatures exceeding 110°.  If Wheaton Academy was going to advance to the final day of State and stay in contention for a Top-5 finish, it was clear that Ty, Owen, Graham, Devin, and Tristan were going to have to overcome their toughest tests yet.

Those tests began when, for the first time in the tournament, the WA doubles teams were called out to play on adjacent courts. This gave Warrior Nation the opportunity to consolidate its support behind both teams which would give them a much-needed boost.  Owen and Graham faced off against a very tough 9-16 seed from Marian-Woodstock, and Devin and Tristan matched up against a very talented 9-16 seed from Morton who had played one less match and seemed well rested and raring to go.

Marian-Woodstock challenged Owen and Graham throughout their match-winning their share of points and games.  However, the Warriors stayed one step ahead from start to finish and secured a fabulous 6-4, 6-3 win to punch their ticket to the final day of State and guarantee themselves a Top-10 finish in the State Doubles Championships.

While Owen and Graham were marching toward State Saturday, Devin and Tristan were yet again engaged in a brutal back and forth battle that would take them to the brink of elimination on more than one occasion. Morton, knowing that a spot in the State Saturday field was on the line, jumped out to a quick 5-3 lead and threatened to take the first set. However, like they’ve done so many times before, Devin and Tristan activated “Warrior Mode” allowing them to pull even with Morton and eventually take the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (7-3).  Much credit goes to Morton, however, who was not ready to concede. Instead, they overcame an early break to capture the second set 6-4 and send the teams to a 10-point super match tiebreaker (Devin and Tristan’s second of the day).  Morton grabbed an early 2-1 lead, but there was no quit in these Warriors.  Instead, they dug deep a final time leaving all they had on the court and sprinted past Morton to the finish line for a thrilling 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 10-4 victory that vaulted Devin and Tristan into the final day of State and guaranteed that both of WA’s doubles teams would finish in the top 10 of the State Doubles Championships.

After watching both doubles team advance to State Saturday in thrilling fashion, Warrior Nation was buzzing with excitement. However, instead of celebrating their own victories, Devin, Tristan, Owen and Graham hopped in their cars and high-tailed it to Schaumburg High School (with Warrior Nation in tow) to extend their support to Ty who was attempting to reach the final day of the State Singles Championships for the first time in his WA tennis career.  To get it done, Ty would have to take down 9-16 seed John Pooley from Chicago-DePaul who had proven to be one of the toughest players in the field when the 10.5 UTR pushed the eventual 5th place finisher to 3-sets earlier that day.  Warrior Nation knew it would take some of Ty’s best work to advance to State Saturday, and that’s exactly what he delivered as he relied on his big serve and silky smooth slice to beat Pooley 6-4, 6-1. With the win, the Warriors finished Day 2 tied for 3rd Place in the team standings (just one point behind U-High Normal and Chicago University-Lab).

After two full days of intense competition among the State’s elite, only the absolute best of the best woke up on State Saturday with tennis left to play, and no one had more of these top guns still alive in the State Finals than Wheaton Academy (who joined Chicago Latin as the only teams to advance five of their State Qualifiers to the final day).

Ty Krill opened up the day for the Warriors with a tough matchup against 5-8 seed Dorath Chamarthi of U-High Normal, whose only loss had been to the #1 seed in the Quarterfinals.  Chamarthi was not only an elite talent but also had the benefit of having played one less match in the Finals, and it became clear quickly that despite his best efforts Ty had emptied the tank in his win over Pooley the day before in the stifling heat. Ty gave all he had, but it was not enough to stop the 5-8 seed from moving on with a 6-2, 6-0 victory.

Ty wrapped up his tennis career with a 4-2 record at this year’s State tournament, a 9th Place finish in the State Singles Finals (his highest ever), 2nd Team All-State Honors, and a 25-9 record for his senior season at WA.  He also became the first and to date only Warrior to win at least 100 matches in his high school tennis career.  (Ty, we are so proud of you and have been so Blessed to have you as a Warrior the last 4 years. It is, of course, a blast to have a player as good as you on the team, but the real Blessing has been to have a young man with your amazing heart as one of the team’s leaders!  Many Blessings to you in your next season of life at the University of Wisconsin! Warrior Nation loves you Ty!)
While Ty was battling one 5-8 seed on court 8, Devin and Tristan drew their own 5-8 seed in the top doubles team from Chicago University-Lab.  Led by Sam Fleming, who won the State Doubles Championship last year, the matchup with unseeded Devin and Tristan looked lopsided on paper.  However, having already upset two seeded teams the previous day, Devin and Tristan had already proven that they were one of the best doubles teams in the State (along with their teammates Owen and Graham).  So, when the teams marched out to court 3 for their Back Draw Quarterfinal, it was not a surprise when the two teams traded one game after another until the score rested at 4-4.  At that point, Devin and Tristan earned a service break to go up 5-4 and even gave themselves an opportunity to take the first set with a set point.  However, displaying the same champion’s heart that secured a 1st Place finish last year, Fleming fought off the set point and rallied his team to a first set victory 7-5.  Devin and Tristan continued to fight to the very end, but as the second set wore on it became clear that they did not have enough left in the tank to overcome the deficit.  When all was said and done, Devin and Tristan lost the match 7-5, 6-3, but they had earned the respect of the defending champion as all four players embraced at center court to congratulate each other on a tremendous match.  Devin and Tristan finished their sophomore season with a 5-2 record at this year’s State tournament, a 9th Place finish in the State Doubles Finals, 2nd Team All-State Honors, and the best record for a Warrior doubles team (30-6) in WA history.

With Ty, Devin, and Tristan out of the State Finals, all attention turned to Owen and Graham to see if they could continue their fabulous run. They first took the court against Chicago Latin’s second doubles team (a 9-16 seed) in the Back Draw Quarterfinals and quickly showed that they were in top form cruising to a 6-2, 6-3 victory to advance to the Back Draw Semifinals.  The first set of the semis started out the same way as the previous match had ended, with Owen and Graham dominating play and sprinting out to a 4-0 lead. However, their opponents from Chicago Northside (a 5-8 seed) got their footing and came roaring back to take a 5-4 lead.  Owen and Graham did not fold though. Instead, they regained the lead with some laser-like winners, nimble net play and tremendous hustle (which at one point left Graham scrambling and repeatedly diving to keep a point alive just long enough for Owen to put away the winner).  With momentum back on their side, Owen and Graham squeaked out the first set in a tiebreaker and then cruised to a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 victory to advance to the Back Draw Championship to determine who would take home the 5th Place medals.

The 5th Place Match for State turned out to be a rematch of the Sectional Championship where Hinsdale South had beaten Owen and Graham 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.  Hoping to flip the script this time around against the 5-8 seed Hornets, Owen and Graham gave it all they had despite oppressive heat which drove on-court temperatures in excess of 110°.  However, after seven previous matches (one more than the Hinsdale South duo had to play), the Warriors were unable to keep pace and ultimately fell to the Hornets 6-3, 6-1 to take 6th Place.

Owen (22-6 overall) and Graham (32-6 overall) finished their junior and sophomore seasons, respectively, with a 6-2 record at this year’s State tournament, a 6th Place finish in the State Doubles Finals (matching Ty and Owen’s 6th Place State finish in 2017 as the highest ever State finish by a WA singles player or doubles team), 1st Team All-State Honors, and an 18-6 record as a doubles team.  In addition, Graham, along with Devin (32-6), Tristan (31-6) and Jacob (30-5), joined Ty (32-6 in 2017) as the only Warriors ever to win at least 30 matches in a single season.  Finally, the 32 wins posted this season by Devin and separately by Graham tied each of them with Ty’s 32 wins in 2017 for the most wins ever by a Warrior in a single season.

Congratulations to each of Ty, Owen, Devin, Tristan, Graham and Jacob on an incredible State Tournament and to the entire Wheaton Academy Boys Tennis Team (including Senior Co-Captain Caleb Hoogerheide, Seniors Noah Starkey and Dylan Zanke, and Head Coach Jones, Coach Dykema, and Coach Clancy) on an extraordinary 2018 season!  Soli Deo Gloria!