Men’s Tennis Power Through to Second Place at State Finals
By Christina Yoon
“If you play tennis, you are my friend,” said Mikus Biernadski, Adv. 104, causing the Northside tennis team and the fellow peers who had gathered to support their friends erupt in laughter. This kind of quirky energy had filled the Northside men’s tennis season and it was clearly evident during the three day state championship which took place from May 23, 2019 through May 25, 2019.
Among the eight players of the Northside men’s varsity tennis team, four players represented Northside at the state finals which took place at Hersey High School. Natan Spear, Adv. 903, and Jacob Watson, Adv. 905, played in the singles bracket while Mikus Biernadski, Adv. 104, and Justin Penados, Adv. 009, were partners in the doubles bracket.
Though the state finals took place at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, the previous rounds took place at different sites for the four players. Spear played Buffalo Grove High School and won all five matches that took place there, allowing him to advance to the final round of the state championships. Biernadski and Penados won three matches at Buffalo Grove High School but lost the semifinal match which took place on Friday at Hersey High School. As a result, they competed for third place on the final day of the state championships. Watson played his first two matches at Schaumburg High School but due to an unfortunate injury in the first match, was unable to make it to the final rounds of the state championship.
In a match to determine the third and fourth place for the doubles of the state finals, Biernadski and Penados played against Jamo Katz and Billy Taylor from St. Ignatius College Prep. Despite initially being down 4-2, with the help of the cheers and words of encouragement from their friends, family, coach, and one another, they won the first set 6-7 in a very close tiebreaker. They continued to fight in the second set, playing yet another tight game, but were unable to finish strong, losing the second set 7-5. The tension began to build both on and off the court, as the weather took a turn for the worst. The light drizzles turned into a pouring storm and the third set was paused to wait out the storm. The rain stopped fairly quickly and in a matter of a few minutes, the courts were dried out to continue the third match. However, the pair had lost their momentum and unfortunately lost the third set 6-4.
In his match for the first place title in men’s singles, Spear competed against Normal University High’s Dorath Chamarthi. Spear was experiencing a bit of a dejavu moment as just one year ago, he had lost the first place title in a very tight game. “I was feeling a little nervous. This was my last year of high school tennis and I really wanted to win, especially because of last year,” said Spear. To shake off his nerves, Spear maintained his focus by continuously talking to himself and giving words of encouragement to himself. With the last point, it was obvious that Spear’s hard work from the past four years had paid off as he won 6-1 on both sets, earning the title of first place. “I was elated. It felt so good to win first and it was a great way to wrap up my high school tennis career,” said Spear.
After the matches had ended, the Northside players and students came together to congratulate one another. The quick shift from rainy weather to the blistering heat had made it difficult for the fans who had traveled all the way to the suburbs, but it didn’t seem to faze them. “We’re here to support Northside Men’s Tennis and for the Mustang spirit, anything is worth it,” said Aaron Williams, Adv. 906, one of the students who went to support his friends.
It also helped that they had brought a little part of Northside to Hersey High School. Along with Williams and the four other members of the NCP tennis team, Gaby Jimenez, Adv. 902, Emilia Chojnacki, Adv. 904, Faith Zehfuss, Adv. 904, and Kimberly Grabiec, Adv. 902, played a game of four square that was even more intense than Spear’s match for first place. “It was a long trek to Target [to buy the ball], but for four square and a chance to get to king, I’d scale the highest mountain,” said Jimenez.
The team was awarded with an overall title of second place in the state championship, ending the 2019 NCP Men’s Tennis season on a high note.