Devils contending on the course, courts

Central boys and girls golf and girls tennis teams hope to repeat their 2022 success

The Hinsdale Central boys and girls golf teams faced their first opponents last month; the girls tennis team saw its first competition last weekend. Such is the nature of the fall season for Red Devil athletes. All three teams hope to end the season with a spot on the podium - if not a trophy - at their state meets.

This is the second of three installments of fall previews. Boys and girls cross country and football were featured last week, and girls volleyball, girls swimming and boys soccer will be highlighted next week.

Boys golf

First meet: Aug. 10 @ The Prep Tour (V placed first with 283)

Last year: second in state

Head coach: Serge Penksik

Seasons as head coach: second (coached JV for 10 years prior)

No. team members: 12

Strengths: I think in particular the top six golfers that I have right now gained a lot of experience playing team golf last year. They took second at state. Many of them are returning, so they know how to deal with pressure a little bit better. They've shown it in the tournaments so far. They're more confident in their ability to play as a team. They are supportive of one another. It's good chemistry that we have on the team that helps us be successful.

Challenges: When you start off well in the season and you are shooting good scores and winning tournaments, you start to feel like it's something you're always going to do. Inevitably you are going to come across adversity when you are not playing as well. How you deal with adversity determines how successful you are going to be. I think these kids know it. Just because we've won a couple of tournaments and been successful doesn't guarantee us anything down the line. We still have to earn it.

Who to watch: We have quite a few golfers that are fun to watch. We have three seniors on the team. I rely on them greatly for their leadership. We have Jack Mulligan. He has put in a lot of work off-season. A lot of his scores have dropped since last year. He is much more consistent, much more experienced. He is looking to play college golf. Another senior is Devin Swoyer. At Conway Farms, the invitation for the top teams in Illinois, we did really well there. And partly the reason why we did well there is Devin shot 67, which was by four strokes the best score in the entire tournament. Devin is not by any means the longest hitter on our team, but he has an incredible work ethic. It really is an inspiration for a lot of golfers. We have a third senior, Alex Rasmussen. He was a state player for us last year and over the summer qualified for the Illinois amateur. He's a very skilled golfer and talented athlete and, like the other two, puts up really good scores.

Outlook: At the parent meeting, I always try to go over the goals for our team. I came out and said, "Look, obviously the main goal for us is to win the state championship." Within that goal, we have smaller goals. For me the goal - aside from winning the state title - is how we go about preparing for it and potentially doing it. To win a state title, in my opinion, you have to play your best golf at the right time. If you don't pace yourself, you might not play your best golf when it matters most.

Girls golf

First meet: Aug. 11 @ The Prep Tour (V places 2nd)

Last year: first in state

Head coach: Nick Latorre

Seasons as head coach: 11th

No. varsity team members: 12

Strengths: We have a lot of experience and we've got a good contingent back from last year's state championship team. I think we've got some depth as well.

Challenges: When you have had success, it can be a challenge to not put too much pressure on yourself. Climbing the mountain oftentimes is easier than staying on the mountain. Instead of being the hunter, you are the hunted. I think that kind of changes your mindset a little bit. It can be even more challenging to continue to improve and maintain your focus on playing up to your capabilities every time.

Who to watch: Caroline Owens has continued to improve every year. She's off to a tremendous start already. She had a great summer. She just committed to Notre Dame. I think she's in a really good place with her game. Elyssa Abdullah also continues to improve and play at a really high level. Lilly Riegger had a great season, won player of the year for Illinois Junior Golf Association. Toral Bhatt, she's a junior. It's her third year on varsity. She threw up a round of 66 this summer. She's already had some really low rounds this year.

Outlook: I'm hoping that we're playing at our best at the end of the year. I hope that we're improving and the team is playing with good chemistry. That's what I hope for and that's what we shoot for.

Furthermore: It's just a really nice group of girls that work really hard and have good attitudes.

Girls tennis

First match: Sept. 2 @ DGS Team Invite

Last year: first at state

Head coach: Shawna Zsinko

Seasons as head coach: seven

No. team members: 22

Strengths: We've got a great group of girls. They get along really well.

Challenges: We're kind of young. One of the challenges is just trying to find who could be potential singles players vs. doubles players for state. We graduated five out of the six players who went to state last year. Typically we don't graduate that many from the state team. I feel like it's a little bit back to the drawing board - who's going to shine where? While we have a really deep team, we're missing some of the super high ranked players that we've had in the past. I'm excited to see who ends up stepping up and winning some big matches and who is going to fight to be on the state team.

Who to watch: Junior Abigail Gambla, she is the returning player from state. I have a couple of players that I haven't had before. Kotryna Tomas, she is a junior and she was doing online school. Now she's on the team and she's definitely one of my top players. The other person that I did not have was Calista Chang. I think she played as a freshman and moved. She's a senior. I have Sydney Shuster, she's a sophomore. She's super tall. I'm looking for her to play some more. Lauren Panveno is a sophomore. I feel like we've got some good players, some good girls to pull from. I just don't know exactly what the combination might be.

Outlook: I think we're going to do well. I think York and Glenbard West are probably going to be our rivals in the conference. I don't know who our sectional (rival) will be, but hopefully we can qualify everyone. The hardest thing is not so much the doubles but the singles players. I think that's where it's tough. When I look at state, there are going to be some tough teams to play. This could be a little bit of a rebuilding year for us. I hope we're somewhere on the podium. We're going to try.

Furthermore: I think Central's motto is "Bring the fire" right now, and that really kind of encompasses what we're going to have to do. We are going to have to bring whatever we've got if we're going to have a shot at this.

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean