Girls Varsity Tennis takes second in the state with a three-way tie


Louise Brickman, Editor-in-Chief

This past long weekend the girls varsity tennis team dominated at the IHSA three-day state tournament in Buffalo Grove. Coming into the tournament as state champions, they were excited to see what this year was bringing. Having come in second the week prior in Sectionals, the three state-qualifying players were fired up and prepared for the difficult competition. 

This year three players qualified for State, having advanced to the finals in Sectionals: the #1 singles player, junior Autumn Rabjohns and the #1 doubles players, junior Lainey O’Neil, and sophomore Isabelle Chong. 

These players work tirelessly every day to improve their game in preparation for the state tournament. This was Rabjohns’ second time making an appearance at the tournament, playing #2 singles her freshman year. However, this was O’Neil’s and Chong’s first time entering the tournament, with State being canceled last year due to Covid. 

The tennis bus decorated by Scout Nation and the athletic office

With only three out of the potential six players qualifying for state, it was definitely an uphill battle to get to the top of the leaderboard.

On day one of the tournament, Rabjohns was located at Barrington High School for the day to play the first three matches of the weekend. Even with the rain delay, Rabjohns dominated all three matches, defeating Huntley, Whitey Young, and Glenbrook North. 

#1 doubles was located in Palatine at Fremd High School on the first day. O’Neil and Chong cruised through their first two matches, winning 6-0 6-0 in both. Underdog Fremd put up a good fight but ultimately lost to the Scouts with a 3 hour and 15-minute match going to a third tie-breaking set. The rest of the tennis team was there supporting their teammates, cheering with every point to help hype up O’Neil and Chong. 

On the second day, all three players were located at Buffalo Grove for the quarter and semifinals. 

Rabjohns rematched New Trier’s Madison Lui, whom she previously lost to in the regular season when sick with strep throat. She won in a 6-0 6-4 victory, advancing to the semis. Playing Jessica Kovalcik from Plainfield North, Rabjohns again was the winner with a 6-3 6-1 match. After the win, she was congratulated by the rest of the team running on the court. 

O’Neil and Chong rematched Hinsdale Central’s #2 doubles team, Zoe Limparis & Bridget Novatoney, winning in a 6-0 6-2 match. Advancing to the semis, the two played Abbey Lee & Natalie Schoen from Deerfield High School. Another rematch and another success for the Scouts with a 6-3 6-1 win.

It may have seemed like some quick matches on day two, but both teams put up a great fight, showcasing some of the best doubles skills in the state. O’Neil and Chong work together outside of the high school practice to help prepare and improve their strategies – something that you could tell really paid off. The two were practically in sync, knowing exactly where to go and when to switch. 

All three players advanced to the finals and celebrated with each other after the end of day two. This was the first time that head coach Denise Murphy had both singles and doubles advance to the finals for the state title. Having three of the best tennis players all on one team is clearly very rare.

“Lainey, Isabelle, and Autumn are making Scout history…This is the first time in my 15+ years of coaching to have players competing in the State finals of both Singles and Dubs! Amazing…just amazing!” Head Coach Denise Murphy said, “They are playing so smart, so solid and I am so so proud. Proud of how we compete. Proud of the growth I am literally witnessing each day.”

The three finalists celebrating after their victory in the semis

On the third and final day, Rabjohns took on opponent Sarah Wang from Stevenson High School. The two have played each other several times this season. Both having previous wins against the other. Safe to say this was a match no one wanted to miss. Rabjohns put up an incredible fight, doing everything in her power to wear out her opponent.

Using her iconic slice among many 0ther shots, Wang was consistent, as she did not miss a ball. Losing with a score of 6-3 6-2, Rabjohns took second in the tournament. She is looking forward to playing Wang again next year and is determined to take the title. 

“Having the opportunity to compete at state this year was amazing, I was so happy to be able to represent the team and the school,” said junior Autumn Rabjohns. “I am so incredibly proud of Lainey and Izzy for how they competed and took home the title, no team is more deserving than them.”

Doubles competed against Sophia Kim & Katie Dollens, the #1 doubles team from Hinsdale Central. Hinsdale has been notorious for having a loud student section, so the Scouts were prepared to fight back with cheers and encouragement for O’Neil and Chong. This was another anxiety-inducing long match, that was a battle with every point. Both teams were incredibly talented, but the scouts proved to be the better players with a win in a tie-breaking third set with a score of ​​5-7, 6-4, 6-3. For the first time going to state, the two could not have been more collected under pressure, resulting in their big win. 

Coach Murphy, Corky, and Jeff at the state tournament

“It was such a tough battle, but at the end of the day it came down to who would make the unforced errors first,” said sophomore Isabelle (Izzy) Chong. “Lainey has been such a great partner all season. We kept each other motivated and positive all throughout the long match.”

The rest of the team ran onto the court to congratulate the newest #1 doubles team in the state.

Lake Forest ended with a three-way tie for second place with Stevenson and New Trier. All schools ended the tournament with 26 points. Hinsdale came in first place overall with 34 points. 

Hinsdale, New Trier, and Stevenson all had more players qualify in the tournament than LFHS, yet the talent of Rabjohns, O’Neil, and Chong proved to carry the scouts to #2 in the state.