BUFFALO GROVE – The will to win propelled Crystal Lake Central’s Evelyn Youel and Jillian Wallace to a sixth-place finish Saturday at the IHSA Girls Tennis State Tournament.
In the fifth-place match, Youel and Wallace lost to Hinsdale Central freshmen Danielle Burich and Erika Oku, 6-3, 6-1. But it was their consolation semifinal match against another Hinsdale Central team at Rolling Meadows that Youel and Wallace will remember.
In that match they defeated Rugile Valiunaite and Katie Leek, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, in a 3 1/2 hour marathon.
After dropping the first set, Youel said she talked with Wallace and Tigers coach Katie Lashbrook about not being ready for their season to end. After a championship quarterfinal loss Friday, every match had a lose-and-go-home scenario.
“In between the first and second sets we decided we’re going to do whatever it takes to win,” Youel said. “We just wanted to win.”
For Wallace, it was a clarifying moment in the midst of the match that brought their goals, will and determination together.
“We had to take time to think about it during the match,” Wallace said. ”It’s a huge accomplishment for us.”
Playing in the wind and cold is tough, but Lashbrook said she was most impressed with how tough her doubles team was mentally in the consolation semis.
“It was unbelievable,” Lashbrook said. “They hung in there. They never gave up.”
In the place match, Lashbrook said that Youel and Wallace were closer than the score made it appear. A first-set win by the Tigers could have changed the whole dynamic of the match.
“A few errors separated the first set,” Lashbrook said. “I think a couple of bad shot decisions was the difference.”
Youel and Wallace, both seniors, have been doubles partners since their freshman season. They were happy with their accomplishments but sad to see it end.
“I wish it wasn’t over,” Youel said.