Hinsdale Central Pair Going for Historic State Title 3-Peat
The doubles team of Marika Cusick and Caroline Lorenzini is, for the second straight year, the No. 1 seed in the IHSA girls tennis state tournament that begins Thursday morning.
Marika Cusick and Caroline Lorenzini are seven wins away from history.
The pair of Hinsdale Central seniors who make up the top-seeded doubles team in the 2012 IHSA girls tennis state tournament would, with those seven wins, become the first girls doubles team to win three straight state titles since girls state tennis became a high school sport in 1972.
The state tournament begins Thursday and runs through Saturday. Cusick and Lorenzini open at Hersey High School Thursday morning against Moline's Alyssa Ray and Marina Johnson. The Lyons Township Sectional champions play three matches Thursday and two each on Friday and Saturday.
Cusick and Lorenzini won their first doubles title as sophomores in 2010, beating Lake Forest's Haleigh McPeek and Elizabeth Zordani in the final, 6-2, 6-3. In 2011, a state title year for the Red Devils as a team, the pair of juniors beat Nazareth's Alexia Petrovic and Alysa Straub in a three-set title match, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
The two Red Devils have been on the court together since they were 7 years old and playing at Five Seasons Sports Club in Burr Ridge. They both played on varsity as freshmen, but were on different doubles teams for most of the season.
Head coach Robin Kramer put them together as sophomores.
"We’ve known each other forever, so we work really well together," Lorenzini said.
As sophomores at the state tournament in 2010, the pair felt like unknowns and benefited from the lack of pressure. As juniors, they were the No. 1 seed and the team to beat.
"We had a target on our back," Lorenzini said.
Replied Cusick, "I feel like this year we're going to have an even bigger target."
Tough competition for Cusick and Lorenzini will include doubles pairs from Lake Forest and Nazareth, as well as from their own team. Hinsdale Central senior Tiffany Chen and junior Katie Lee are the No. 2 seed doubles team.
"On every court there seems to be a good match," Cusick said of the state tournament atmosphere. "It's really fun to be surrounded by such good tennis all the time."
Lorenzini and Cusick became the sixth doubles team to win back-to-back state titles last year, and the third pair of Red Devils to accomplish the feat.
Courtney Dolehide and Nida Hamilton won titles for Hinsdale Central in 2006 and 2007; Anne Hutchens and Vicki Shields won in 1979 and 1980.
In between, repeat doubles titles were won by Oak Park-River Forest's Kristen Beaudoin and Anna Sloan in 1985 and 1986, Barrington's Laura Maloney and Shannon Taheny in 1994 and 1995, and West Aurora's Natalie Matko and Stephanie Matko in 1996 and 1997.
None of those pairs, though, won three straight.
Cusick and Lorenzini said it'd be cool to do what no one else has done, but the historical element is not their focus.
"For us it's not really about the repeat," Cusick said. "It’s just more about winning and trying to do the best we can."
In order to win seven matches in three days, the girls said, it's important to get the kinks out during the early matches against low-seeded opponents. By the time the high seeds start playing each other in the latter part of the bracket, the team's play needs to be fine-tuned.
"By then, hopefully we’ll be in sync," Cusick said.
Three-peat or no three-peat, this weekend will be the last time Cusick and Lorenzini play together as a Red Devils doubles team. Both said that is a weird thought.
"We really like high school tennis and our four years have gone by super fast," Cusick said.
"Super fast," Lorenzini repeated.