Cyclones tennis team keeps on rolling
As the 2014 tennis season nears its end, Moraine Valley College’s fun may only be starting.
For sure, there’s been plenty of enjoyment already realized, thanks to a win streak that the Cyclones extended to seven straight matches by defeating Oakton College 7-2 and Waubonsee College 8-1 in a pair of Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference encounters last week. The second of those wins guaranteed Moraine a runner-up conference finish.
An 8-1 nonconference triumph over Illinois Valley College on Friday then gave the Cyclones a final push toward the Region IV Tournament, which was slated to get underway this week. A high finish there would put Moraine back into the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament after a one-year hiatus.
The national event will be held next month in Texas, and it’s something the Cyclones’ veteran players definitely have on their radar.
“Finishing second in conference is a step up from last season,” first-year Moraine coach Ben Thompson said. “We had a hiccup in our first match of the season, but that pushed us. The conference doesn’t dictate if we go to nationals, [so] the players have it in their heads to redeem themselves from that one and only loss this season.
“I’m happy with the improvements. We still have a long way to go, but we’re taking it one day at a time. We’re working hard in practice and I’m happy with them.”
Ironically, one of the two losses suffered against Oakton came at No. 1 singles, where Kevin Karczynski had been unbeaten before that. However, Karczynski maintained his spotless ledger in first-doubles play, as he teamed with Mike Broderick to produce a hard-fought 6-4, 2-6, 12-9 victory.
Two other notable matches versus Oakton were Brad Smith’s conquest of a previously undefeated foe in a third-singles tiebreaker and the 6-0, 6-0 whitewash Smith and Tim Stewart registered in one of the doubles clashes.
Moraine swept through all six of its singles matches against Waubonsee. Along with Karczynski, Smith and Broderick — the latter of whom remained perfect at No. 3 — the Cyclones also benefited from singles victories by Stewart, Ryan Adamski and Christian Lagunas.
Karczynski and Broderick pocketed another triumph in doubles play as well.
Broderick completed a 9-0 regular season against Illinois Valley, and Karczynski, Smith, Stewart and Lagunas also prevailed to help Moraine romp. Smith trailed at one juncture of his second-singles match, but fought back to capture a tiebreaker.
The Karczynski-Broderick tandem also won again at No. 1 doubles.
The Cyclones got swept 9-6 and 7-2 by Prairie State College in an ISCC doubleheader last Wednesday. The games were originally scheduled to be held at Moraine, but were moved to Chicago Heights because of wet field conditions.
Bobby Neylon provided a bright spot for the Cyclones with four hits on the day.
Ryan Gyrion had a double and triple, but that was just about the full extent of Moraine’s offense last Thursday as it was bounced 14-1 by Harper. He added two more hits in the back end of a Saturday conference twinbill with McHenry College, but the Brother Rice grad’s effort again went for naught as the Cyclones suffered a 9-5 setback.
Game 1 on Saturday was more to Moraine’s liking, as Mike Levigne fired a three-hitter to lead the Cyclones to a 4-2 victory. James Lulek paced the locals’ attack with two hits and two RBI.
After a lengthy uphill climb, the Cyclones finally reached the .500 mark (15-15) last Friday by beating Harper College 8-1 and 13-9 in a rescheduled doubleheader, The dual wins gave Moraine six in a row.
One day earlier, the Cyclones also triumphed twice as they crushed McHenry 11-2 and 24-2.