Olivia Luby wasn’t ready for the girls tennis season to end.
Neither was Kate Kremin.
Neither was Jessica Ampel.
All three Evanston athletes earned top four finishes at Saturday’s Niles West Sectional tournament and will automatically advance to the Illinois High School Association state finals this week.
It marks the first time since 2002 that the Wildkits have qualified more than a doubles entry for the finals, and the first time that anyone from ETHS has qualified since Brigit Larson advanced in singles in 2007.
Luby, a senior, teamed up with Kremin, a sophomore, for a third place finish in doubles and Ampel, a sophomore, placed fourth in singles for the Wildkits Saturday. Evanston tallied 13 team points, good for the runnerup spot behind champion New Trier with 32.
The team of Luby/Kremin downed Niles West’s Kristine Park/Audra Sabou by a 6-3, 6-1 margin in the third place doubles match after losing to New Trier’s tandem of Alex Wolkoff/Catherine MacKinnon 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals. The pair had opened with wins over Niles North and North Shore Country Day on Friday.
Luby and Kremin, the No. 3 seed in the doubles bracket, had to rally from a 5-2 deficit in the second set against Niles North in the opening round. They eventually prevailed 6-4, 7-6 (5) and advanced, avoiding a repeat of last year’s first-round knockout at the sectional. “We realized we should stop playing tight and just move our feet, and fight for the set, because we deserved to go to State,” said Luby.
Ampel’s fourth place finish was impressive because knocked off Niles North freshman Sabrina Palavra, a player she lost to during the regular season, by a 6-3, 7-5 count in the match that determined a top four finish.
Ampel then bowed to the eventual champion, Carol Finke of New Trier, 6-1, 6-1 in the semifinals and dropped the third place match 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to Niles West freshman Eliza Kirov, the No. 3 seed.
Evanston’s other two entries were eliminated early. In singles, Abbey Moore lost to New Trier’s Taylor Tamblyn in the first round, while the ETHS doubles team of Becca Wagner and Isabel Avery split a pair of matches, whipping Lane Tech 6-0, 6-1 before being eliminated by new Trier’s Cammie Frei and Lily Schroeder 6-1, 6-0.