Girls Tennis earns top-four finish at state

Benedetto, Zaban/Hara shine but rain ruins chances at third place



Seniors Bhote (left) and Dale (right) focus on the ball at the state championship in Buffalo Grove

New Trier’s Girls Tennis team finished fourth at the state tournament in Buffalo Grove on Oct. 20, but efforts to place higher were halted by inclement weather.

The final few matches of the tournament had to be canceled due to rain, and those matches could have awarded the Trevians five more total points. This would have vaulted New Trier to as high as second overall in the class of 2019’s final attempt at a title.

“I am not satisfied [with fourth place], none of us were,” said sophomore Macy Zaban, who with her doubles partner freshman Ashtin Hara reached the quarter finals – at least eighth overall – before the tournament was called. “If we got the point from [junior] Ali Benedetto’s match that she won, then we would have tied for third.”

Benedetto’s final match and victory did not reap any rewards for her team because in order for a match to be credited towards the team’s total, the entire round has to be played. This did not happen, so it didn’t count.

Benedetto still finished in the top eight overall in the state tournament, but she’s more concerned about the team as a whole.

“My point put us into third so that was a bummer that they didn’t count it,” said Benedetto, one of New Trier’s two singles players at state (sophomore Emma Bhote was the other). She currently ranks fifth in Illinois with a recruit rating of four stars, according to the website Tennis Recruiting Network, and she said that she’s planning on playing in college.

Zaban’s partner, Hara, also expressed disappointment that they weren’t able to finish the tournament.

“Our team worked so hard all season and qualified the max amount of players that could go to state and it was a shame that we didn’t get to play it out,” she said.

These matches were canceled and not delayed or rescheduled because no Trevian had been still alive in the championship bracket, only in the consolation bracket.

Some, like Benedetto, made it far in the main bracket, lost, and played for a still-impressive finish in the consolation bracket, or “back draw.”

According to the IHSA tennis representative Susie Knoblauch (per Chicago Tribune), “the goal is to crown an [individual] champion and back draw play only continues if the weather cooperates.” Due to this, the team portion of the tournament was incomplete and while it would have been impossible to finish first, New Trier finished only five points behind eventual champion Hinsdale Central.

The two seniors who made the state roster were doubles partners Emily Dale and Lily Bhote. Dale acknowledge that the weather did not help but she took a portion of the blame for the team not finishing as well as they wanted to.

“We lost a close match in the consolation bracket that we could have won, which was disappointing because in the final score we were only behind third place by one point,” said Dale.

She explained that the match would have put them in a tie for third overall.

“Everyone else on the team did as well as they could have, considering their draw. We were the only ones who could have done better,” she said.

Dale and Bhote won two matches at state. Dale graduates from the program as a four-year varsity tennis player, and like Benedetto, is considering playing in college.

While the team is clearly disappointed in where they finished, fourth place in the state is nothing to scoff at. It’s an improvement over last season, when the Trevians finished sixth. And it’s thanks in large part to the senior class, who accounted for 12 of the 22 members of the team. Hara especially was effusive in her praise of how close they were as a team.

“I think team tennis gives you so many benefits because tennis can be a lonely singular sport,” she said. “Our coaches tell us to pride ourselves in ‘it’s all about we and never about I.’ Whether we placed at state or not, we were all pretty proud of ourselves for just getting there.”