Naperville Central boys tennis has been one of the strongest programs in the area for several years now, culminating with the 2017 2A state championship. Last spring, the Redhawks added another impressive feather in their cap by winning the boys doubles state title behind Blake Roegner and Daanyal Saeed. Another historic first for the proud program. Justin Cornwell brings us the latest Team Profile, presented by Advantage Acura.
Second-year head coach Chris Harrison is proud to have had a state champion in his first full season at the helm, and hopes to continue the winning tradition the team saw under former head coach Dan Brown. Harrison is a former Redhawk player who also works for Brown at Five Star tennis, the connection between the two is long standing and certainly sped up the transition with the coaching change.
Heading into the 2022 season, the Redhawks lost one half of the doubles state champs, Daanyal Saeed to graduation, along with the other doubles team who qualified for state, David Wang and Kevin Ho. Returning is two time All-State selection Blake Roegner who is now playing as the team’s number one singles ace. After so much success in doubles in his career, Blake, who recently committed to play collegiately at Marquette University, is hoping to follow the footsteps of his older brother Ryan, who finished 3rd at state in singles in 2017 and 6th in 2018.
Moving Roegner to one singles gives the team the luxury of having junior Vincent Yin, who qualified for state as the team’s top singles player a year ago, use his talent and experience at two singles. It’s a one-two punch at singles that not many are able to match. The team is also well equipped for next spring when Yin can head back up to one singles for his senior year after Roegner’s graduation.
The biggest question mark for the team obviously came at doubles, with the top two teams from a year ago no longer on the roster. Junior Jeremy Zhao and senior Uju Kim moved up the roster into the two doubles spot and juniors Dan Rabinovich and Vince Staputis played together most of the year to round out the main varsity roster. Kim and Rabinovich then became the one doubles duo heading into the Minooka sectional, a move that paid off with the pair finishing in third place and qualifying for state
The experience from the tough conference schedule of the past two seasons and putting in the work day after day has led to great team chemistry across the roster.
Despite not winning the DuPage Valley Conference or the Minooka 2A sectional this season, the Redhawks still qualified both singles players and their one doubles team to state. Roegner has rolled through the post season thus far, winning the DVC singles and sectional championships, while only losing one set through the entire sectional tournament. Vincent Yin is also heading back to state after finishing in third at sectionals.
Finding the perfect balance of talent and experience to compete for a state title is the biggest challenge for tennis coaches, but coach Harrison clearly has the Central program ready to continue as a force to be reckoned with on the courts this spring and in the years to come.
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Justin Cornwell.