ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — A yearlong mission ended in the best possible way Saturday for University High School tennis players Josh Friesen and Carter Burk.
Not only could Friesen and Burk celebrate a Class 1A state doubles championship, but also a team title after the Pioneers shared the crown with Chicago University.
"I will keep this memory with me the rest of my life," said Friesen, a senior. "All in all it was just a great weekend for the team."
Burk, a junior, said the team championship made winning the doubles crown "a lot sweeter."
"Not many players get the chance to win a doubles title and a team title," he said. "It means a lot."
U High matched Chicago University's 28 points while winning the first state team tennis title in school history. Chicago Latin was a point behind in third.
Leading the way were Friesen and Burk, who placed fifth last year after entering the tournament seeded second.
They were the No. 1 seeds this year and completed a 31-1 season with two wins Saturday. They outlasted Mount Zion's Andy Hinch and Joe Demirjian in the semifinals, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 before downing Jonathan Wuyan and Tej Bahri of Chicago Latin in the final, 6-1, 6-4.
The U High pair also had a three-set win in the quarterfinals on Friday.
"Focus played a large part," Friesen said. "At state you have so many matches over so many days and all of the competition is strong. We just had to keep focused and keep playing our best, never letting up the entire time.
"I think we definitely got better as the season went on. The last couple of weeks we've been playing really good tennis. It's a great time to be able to bring it at the biggest tournament of the year."
Burk said he and Friesen encountered "a few tough experiences" in matches during the season, preparing them for the past two days.
"We've overcome them and it feels good to get past two tough matches on the way to the final," Burk said. "We've been doing it all year. It feels great."
The Pioneers got points from all of their state qualifiers en route to the title — Dorath Chamarthi and Vishnu Anagani in singles, and the doubles teams of Friesen-Burk and Thomas Moh-Mason Runkel.
Chamarthi went 4-2 in the tournament, reaching the consolation semifinals. Anagani won his first-round match Thursday before losing twice, and Moh-Runkel went 3-2 and made the fifth round of consolation play.
"Pretty much people played as expected and got the points that we needed," said U High coach Jon Friesen, Josh's father. "I think I had mentioned (on Tuesday) that it would come down to Saturday and we'd see who wins those matches. We are very pleased and very excited."