Monica Davy and Leah Lines will take 27 doubles wins into the girls tennis state series, which begins Friday, but the Morris duos most recent match was a loss.
Davy and Lines were defeated by the Kaneland team of Jelly Emmanouil and Madi Jurcenko in the No. 1 doubles championship at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Tournament last Saturday. It was the second time this season that Emmanouil and Jurcenko have defeated Davy and Lines, whose only other loss was to the Warren tandem of Max Mella and Courtney Sunday.
When I caught up with Davy and Lines last week, they said one match in particular stood out as important for them – and it wasn’t one of the losses. During a match against Delaney Earley and Tyler Proszowski of Metea Valley at the St. Viator Quad on Sept. 14, things almost came unraveled for the cousins and best friends.
“We won the first set 6-0, and then we had a tough second set and won 7-5, but they came back. That was just tough for us,” Lines said. “We just didn’t communicate as well as we normally do. I think since then, that was like our lowest, and now we know what to say to build each other up.”
Since that match, when Davy and Lines have won, they have almost always won big. None of their wins have gone to a third set, and only twice – against Bailey Bradish and Mariah Cavanaugh of Ottawa on Sept. 26, and against Anna Konczak and Katie Wellner of La Salle-Peru at the conference tournament – have they gone to a tiebreaker.
“There was a time where we didn’t communicate that well, but I’m really glad that we’ve overcome that little struggle,” Davy said. “Now we’re really, really flowing, and I think we’re gonna do great.”
I asked Davy to clarify how exactly she and Lines are now communicating better than they were in prior years, or even early this season.
“I think that we have learned to build each other up,” Davy said. “We can give each other criticism, but we can still say it in a way that we won’t hurt each other’s feelings or affect the way that they play next point.”
First-year Morris coach Becky Ortega knew she was getting a formidable first doubles team in Davy and Lines. The duo qualified for the state final tournament in 2012. I asked Ortega if Davy and Lines have exceeded the expectations she had for them.
“Oh, by far,” Ortega said. “They look fabulous every time we come out there, and they surprise me with every match. Their precision is just fantastic.”
All four of the Morris entrants into the Ottawa Sectional are well above .500 on the season. The other doubles team, consisting of Savannah Carter and Carly Williamson, finished third in the No. 2 doubles bracket at the conference tournament. Carter and Williamson are 14-3 together this season.
Freshman Megan Davy is 20-11 while playing against opponents’ top singles players this season. She placed sixth at conference in the No. 1 singles bracket. The other sectional-bound Morris player is Emma Dingbaum, who was sixth in the No. 2 singles bracket at conference and is 24-8 overall.
Davy and Lines were tabbed as the top doubles team at the sectional at the seeding meeting Wednesday night. They got a first-round bye, as did Davy, who was seeded fourth in the singles bracket. Dingbaum and the Carter/Williamson tandem are both unseeded and drew first-round opponents from Minooka and La Salle-Peru, respectively.
The Morris players aren’t the only locals capable of making noise this weekend at Ottawa. Coal City and Minooka will both be there as well. Keep an eye on the doubles team of Alyssa Aspan and Lacey Viano and on singles player Lily Benig, all from Minooka.
No Coal City players were seeded at the sectional, but Lady Coalers coach Matt Leman is optimistic about the chances of his No. 2 singles player, Carli McGinn, who enters with a 12-5 record. Coal City will also enter two doubles teams with winning records; Krissie Haddon and Katie McGinn are 12-5, and Taylor Sandeno and Carly Seely are 9-8.
"All I hope to see at sectionals from my players this year is the best tennis they are capable of playing," Leman said. "If they perform at the level I know they can, then we stand an excellent chance."