Tinley Park senior Haley Wilcox has seen some of the best tennis players in the world when she was a ball girl at pro tournaments the past three summers. | Jeff Vorva/For Sun-Times Media
Girls TEnnis 2014
Homewood-Flossmoor: Some outstanding players from last year are gone, but the Vikings have enough firepower returning where they could be in line for their 30th straight sectional title.
Stagg: Coach John Daniels is charged up that returning Chargers state qualifiers Nicole Pamphilis and Jillian Atkenson came to practice better and stronger.
Joliet Catholic: Not only is this team strong with state experience, its three top players are not seniors.
Lockport: Four players with state experience return for the Porters, including two-time doubles qualifier Kat Samardzija, who’s back after a one-year absence.
Lincoln-Way East: A sectional champ seven of the past eight years, the Griffins hope to do some reloading this year after losing talented seniors from 2013 squad.
(in alphabetical order)
Maddie Bauer, Joliet Catholic, so.; Nina Bertino, Joliet Catholic, jr.; Bryttish Burts, Rich Central, sr.; Hannah Davis, Providence, jr.; McCoy Hutchison, Joliet Catholic, jr.; Tomi Jo Mansell, Lockport, so.; Timara Maxwell, Homewood-Flossmoor, sr.; Sophia Osabuohien, Homewood-Flossmoor, jr.; Nicole Pamphilis, Stagg, sr.; Haley Wilcox, Tinley Park, sr.
Updated: September 2, 2014 2:11AM
Haley Wilcox has been up close and personal with tennis royalty the past three summers.
The Tinley Park senior has served as a ball girl during matches at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, getting as close to the action as one could get without actually competing against the best players in the world.
She said she’s seen some great action on both the men’s and women’s sides, including a 2012 battle between Venus Williams and Sam Stosur in the tournament’s quarterfinals. Each year, Wilcox comes back home in awe of what she witnessed.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “I think the most impressive thing about seeing them so close is how consistently they hit. They hit the ball hard and it seems like they never miss. Their consistency is more impressive to me than their power.’’
On a smaller scale, Wilcox is tennis royalty around Tinley Park. She heads into the 2014 season with a 72-9 record, and could be the first player in school history to win three sectional titles and qualify for state all four years.
Heck, when she burst onto the scene as a freshman, she had coach Greg Postweiler scrambling in the office poring over records, seeking out the last Titan to make it downstate. The IHSA records online date to 1996.
“We had a couple of doubles teams qualify for state in the past 25 years or so,” Postweiler said. “As for the last singles player, I want to say it was in the late (19)80s. We didn’t have great records kept back then. I think it was 1988.’’
Wilcox’s first state appearance was brief. She lost to Wheaton Warrenville South’s Keisha Clousing 6-0, 6-0. Clousing went on to finish fourth in the state that year and won the state title in 2012.
In 2012, Wilcox went 0-2 but was able to take a set from Lake Forest’s Caitlyn McCarthy in the first round of consolation. Last year, she broke the ice and went 2-2 in state play.
Wilcox said she plays an aggressive game, and has developed a one-handed backhand, which Postweiler said is rare in girls tennis.
“She is not very tall but she has a lot of power,” he said.