BLOOMINGTON — Although his Central Catholic High School girls tennis team went 19-0 in dual meets this year, Coach Joe Rondone believes the Saints saved their best for Saturday.
Led by singles champion Madison Tattini, host Central captured the sectional tournament title over Morton, 24-21. Normal Community was third (16) followed by University High (13) and Lincoln (12) in the nine-team field.
The Central doubles team of Claire Wieland and Maggie Stopa will join Tattini at the state finals that get underway on Thursday at Buffalo Grove after finishing second to Katie Toohill and Olivia Kraft of NCHS.
"The biggest thing is the girls played maybe their best tennis this weekend," said Rondone. "Starting Friday we won our first four matches."
No one was more dominant than Tattini, a nationally ranked player who breezed through all four of her matches at McGraw Park.
Tattini relinquished points to only U High's Christina Su in a 6-2, 6-1 semifinal victory.
"She's been working a lot," said Rondone of his No. 1 singles standout. "Even after practice, she does a lot of work on her own in different areas. She plays over the summer and this is just a continuation of what she's doing."
Tattini just returned to Bloomington from a national tourney in Maryland where she placed eighth. She also competed this summer in tournaments in Oklahoma, Virginia and California. She has her sights set on a state title next weekend after advancing to the round of 16 a year ago as a freshman.
"I've been working with that in mind and hopefully it works out," said Tattini, whose only loss this year was to Michelle Bacalla of Niles North.
Tattini gained momentum for next weekend's meet with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Lincoln's Kena Bere in Saturday's title match.
Su, who was crowned as U High's homecoming queen on Friday night, rebounded from her semifinal loss to Tattini with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Crystal Cobler of Morton in Saturday's third-place match and will be advancing to the state finals for the fourth consecutive year.
In doubles, the NCHS team of Toohill and Kraft qualified for last year's state finals on separate doubles teams. They'll return this year as a unit after defeating Wieland and Stopa, 6-2, 7-6 (5), in the sectional title match.
The U High doubles team of Grace Matheis and Anna Huber also advanced by finishing fourth.