ST. CHARLES – 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 Class 2A sectional singles championship match Oct. 15.
Daggubati’s victory clinched Batavia’s second consecutive team sectional title. It also served as a snapshot into a high school tennis career that has gone nowhere but up the past 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 impressive, Daggubati began as a freshman on junior varsity and 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 to 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 was a bit of a marathon. The North Stars’ team pulled through 6-4, 6-5 (4).
The victory was the 21st consecutive for Joseph and Lu, who are 21-1 since dropping their first match of the season.
The winning streak is a testament to their chemistry on the court 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 6-5 and 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 was fourth in singles. Both qualified for this week’s state meet. St. Charles East doubles pair Kate Lauger and Avary Sitarz also will head to state. The state tournament will be Sitarz’s first. Lauger returns after qualifying last year with Audrey Jones, who has graduated.
“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 the court next to each other trying at the same time.”
It is the most state qualifiers for East since St. Charles High School split more than 20 years ago, Bulman said.
“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.