SYCAMORE – The Sycamore girls tennis team finished comfortably atop their rivals, the DeKalb Barbs, by a score of 7-0, extending the Spartans’ dual winning streak to four before the conference schedule begins.
A large part of the hosts’ strong showing came from a dominant start, with all six courts yielding a Sycamore win after the first set had been played. However, that quick start hit a bump as DeKalb collectively found its footing and the second set was more competitive.
“The first set, they all won easily,” Spartans head coach Jen O’Sullivan said. “And then the second set, the DeKalb girls came out and they really showed up, really challenged us … in the end, [Sycamore] got the job done but not without a few stressful moments for the coach and themselves.”
The response by DeKalb wasn’t enough to dig the Barbs out of an early hole, but the second and third doubles teams managed to force tiebreaks in the second set, signaling the beginnings of a turnaround.
“It’s practice for us to put in our heads, not everything's going to be as easy as we might have been led to believe,” Sycamore doubles player Laramie O’Sullivan said.
Sullivan and her partner, Kylie Plagakis, won the first set 6-2, lost the second 4-6 and had to eke out a tiebreaker win (10-8) for set victory.
The Barbs put up a fight in the second set, with each Barbs singles or doubles player winning more in the second than in the first set, but walked away without a set win on the day.
“It was a pretty sluggish performance,” Barbs head coach Bradley Bjelk said. “Everybody overall seem to be moving kind of slow. Just got to keep working in practice, getting our fundamental skills better, and then that's going to transfer into the matches.”
With Sycamore entering conference play this week, O’Sullivan was happy for the chance to tighten up a few areas that she felt her team was lacking.
“Those big moments [must improve],” Jen O’Sullivan said. “Putting away points at the opportunities that they have them and not letting these things happen where suddenly their opponent is getting better. They need to recognize that and start to play smarter and adjust their game.
By the numbers: Sycamore’s Ella Sharp was dominant in her singles showing, posting set wins of 6-0 and 6-1. Also winning for the Spartans were Alyssa Cooley and Abby Krull in doubles, Emma Hardin and Kaitlyn Berntsen as well as Megan McConnaughay and Torrance Sharp also in doubles. Harmony Klassen and Gracie Johnson each won in singles for the Spartans.
Beyond the stats: Daily Chronicle Athlete of the Week Cooley looked the part when she smashed a volley crosscourt to end a game in her first doubles set of the day with Krull.
They said it: “It’s not like we can say we had to travel so far, big drive or anything like that. It was really just confidence,” Bjelk said.
What’s next: 4-0 Sycamore hosts Kaneland as it begin conference play on Tuesday, Sept. 9.
2-3 DeKalb returns home to face Sterling on Tuesday, Sept. 9.