Girls Tennis: Homewood-Flossmoor has stately attitude
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media August 21, 2012 9:10PM
Homewood-Flossmoor girls tennis players (from left) Adesuwa Osabuohien, Allison Lessner and Faith Huckabee Monday, August 20, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
GIRLS TENNIS 2012
TEAMS TO WATCH
Homewood-Flossmoor: Three-time state qualifier Adesuwa Osabuohien, Faith Huckabee, Allison Lesner and Ofure Osabuohien are focused on bringing home the school’s first trophy in the sport in 17 years.
Marian Catholic: Returning state qualifiers Gaby Rosales, Giselle Beebe and Megan Melby lead the Spartans’ deep and talented lineup.
Morgan Park Academy: Defending state champ Jerricka Boone and returning state qualifier Skylar Taft are hoping the rest of the Warriors will follow their lead this season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
(in alphabetical order)
Amanda Aronson, Andrew
Michelle Beczarski, Argo
Klaudia Beczarski, Argo
Morgan Park Academy
Faith Huckabee, H-F
Vicky Kulbokas, Stagg
Allison Lesner, H-F
Adesuwa Osabuohien, H-F
Ofure Osabuohien, H-F
Morgan Park Academy
Molly Traverse, Sandburg
Haley Wilcox, Tinley Park
Updated: September 23, 2012 6:11AM
It’s about talent, experience and attitude for Homewood-Flossmoor.
Those three attributes are what drive Adesuwa Osabuohien, Faith Huckabee and Allison Lesner. Among them, they have eight state appearances and have helped the Vikings jump from a 10th-place finish in 2009 to fifth a year ago.
This year, the Vikings are after bigger and better things, if ...
“If we can keep up this attitude and enthusiasm the duration of a very demanding season, this can be a very dangerous team who can compete at the highest level,” second-year coach Don Baron said. “The state is going to recognize the South Side.”
The rest of the Illinois tennis community already recognizes Osabuohien, having seen her in the singles draw of the past three state tournaments.
“I think we can do better this year,” Osabuohien said. “This year feels different for some reason. We’re going to talk about our goals as we get closer to the season.”
The senior was sectional champion in 2009 and ’10, but took second to Marian Catholic’s Gaby Rosales last year. They have met in the sectional final the past two seasons and both matches went three sets.
“Since this is my senior year, I feel like this season has to count,” Osabuohien said. “I want to make a statement. I want to leave my mark individually and together, as a team.”
H-F has a long history of tennis success. In the first 39 years of the girls state tourney, the Vikings posted 16 top-10 finishes, including the 1989 state title.
“Our goal is to improve upon our highly successful season last year,” Baron said. “We bring back a strong core of last year’s state qualifiers with a very competitive and able group of returning underclassmen and freshmen to make this year’s team just as capable with tremendous balance.”
The Vikings started to pave the way to greatness in the offseason.
“Our team has worked very hard in the offseason,” Baron said. “Make no mistake. We have the expectation of setting the bar even higher for the state tourney this year.”
Huckabee, a junior, returns at No. 2 singles and has competed at the state meet the past two seasons. Lesner, another junior, will anchor the doubles flights for the Vikings, which could include Ofure Osabuohien, a freshman.
“They are expected to have big years,” Baron said. “A talented cast of returning (players) and freshmen will close out a team that swept the SouthWest Suburban Conference in both singles and doubles last year and concluded a very stringent schedule with a record of 11-3.”
The difference between a top-10 finish and bringing back the school’s first trophy in the sport in 17 years could be conditioning.
“Our focus this year will be on strength, conditioning and mental toughness to get us to the next level,” Baron said. “The girls know they are expected to practice and play hard. But while practices have been intense and competitive, there is a great sense of cohesiveness, unity and a positive atmosphere which has allowed us to work very hard yet have fun in the same process.”
Osabuohien agreed, saying, “Coach makes it fun. It’s helping us a lot. When he says, ‘Let’s do some conditioning.’ It’s not like, ‘Aw!’ It’s ‘OK. Let’s go.’
“We have a lot of positive energy this year.”