Dhruthi Daggubati emerged from the court with a tear or two in her eye.
The Batavia senior was moments removed from prevailing over St. Charles North’s Allison Gizewicz 6-4,4-6, 6-3 in the singles Class 2A sectional championship match on Saturday.
Daggubati’s victory ultimately clinched Batavia’s second consecutive team sectional title. It also served as a snapshot into a prep tennis career that has gone nowhere but up the last three seasons.
“She’s had just an amazing year,” Batavia coach Brad Nelson said. “That was her 30th win of the year. She’s had back to back 30-win seasons at No. 1 singles.”
Perhaps, more impressively, Daggubati first began as a freshman on junior varsity and then rose to No. 3 singles in her first varsity season as a sophomore.
Two years later, she held the team sectional plaque — for a second time — firmly in her grasp.
“The ceiling has just been high,” Nelson said. “She just works hard. She’s a great teammate, great captain and she just leads by example. We all know we can count on her and we needed her today. It was her victory that clinched it for us.”
“I really wanted this win for myself,” Daggubati said. “It’s my senior year and I just wanted to end [it] off so strong. It was kind of always my goal to get this [singles] title senior year. I also really wanted it for my team and get this sectional title for all of us one more time.”
The doubles championship match between Batavia’s Erin Connolly and Julia Arulandu and St. Charles North’s Alyssa Joseph and Shannon Lu endured a bit of a marathon. The North Stars’ team ultimately pulled through 6-4, 6-5 (4).
The victory was the 21st consecutive for Joseph and Lu, now 21-1, since dropping their first match of the season.
Handling that pressure — keeping it between the lines — is a point-by point process. Yet it’s also a testament to their chemistry on the court now for two seasons.
“We just take it a point at a time,” Joseph said. “And we can’t let any miss cloud our judgment on the next point. We let it go.”
Communication, clearly, is at the core of it — even between points.
“Communication is the most important [thing],” Joseph said. “She can tell me what I do wrong and I can see what she does wrong. We coach each other through the match.”
“I’m so proud of our No. 1 doubles,” Nelson said. “They fought off four or five match points [down] 2-5, they brought it back. They went down 6-5and then they brought it back again. That’s a tough St. Charles North team. And, Alli is a great singles player. We beat a great singles player and we were right there toe-to-toe with a very good doubles team.”
St. Charles East freshman Kelsey Jacob took third and junior Sofia Radovic fourth in singles and both qualified for next week’s state meet. Doubles pair Kate Lauger and Avary Sitarz also will head to state. The state tournament next week will be Sitarz’s first and Lauger returns after also qualifying with now-graduated Audrey Jones last year.
“Going in, we knew we had a decent chance to qualify somebody but we weren’t sure where,” Saints coach Matt Bulman said. “Our singles play was strong and our doubles had played tough against both Batavia and Geneva. Focus was key and qualifying was our goal — send someone to the state tournament. Before we knew it all three were on court next to each other trying at the same time.”
It serves as the most state qualifiers for East since St. Charles High School split over 20 years ago, per Bulman.
“From a goal of one to the realization of three all within 30 minutes of each other was a moment in coaching I’ll never forget,” Bulman said. “These kids worked so hard and I couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve accomplished.”
Geneva qualified its No. 1 doubles duo, Annabelle Tomko and Juliana Drew, who placed third in a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Lauger and Sitarz.