Climbing to the top of the Central Suburban League South division tennis ladder hasn’t been easy for players from Evanston.

But Finn Pollard is almost there.

The Evanston Township High School junior couldn’t quite capitalize after reaching the finals at No. 1 singles Saturday, bowing to top-seeded Konrad Kwiatkowski of Glenbrook North 6-2, 6-4.

ETHS hosted the CSL South tennis tournament last weekend, but wet weather forced location shifts. Credit: eths_boys_tennis Instagram

The tournament was hosted by Evanston, but rain forced play indoors for the first round on Friday in both singles and doubles. Wet weather also prompted a shift Saturday, with the doubles competition moved to Glenbrook South while the singles brackets were held at Glenbrook North.

Not many Evanston players have reached the title match at No. 1 singles over the past couple of decades, and the recent move of GBN from the North to the South division has made it even tougher to survive and advance. But Pollard prevailed in a taut semifinal match with a familiar foe, Dominic Kaminski of GBS, to reach the finals.

He eliminated Kaminski in three sets, bowing 7-6 (12-10 in the tiebreaker) and then pulling out a 6-3, 6-0 triumph over the GBS standout. It marked the fifth time in a row that Pollard has defeated Kaminski, and all of those wins have come in the maximum three sets.

Kaminski actually never led in the tiebreaker portion of the first set until he won the last three points of the set. That surge followed a long rally won by Pollard when he came to the net for a putaway shot.

But Pollard raised his game another notch and had no difficulty winning the last two sets.

“Every time I play against Dom it’s close and it’s fun,” Pollard said. “We’re really evenly matched, and even though I’ve beaten him five times in a row, I couldn’t tell you who’s best. I know when I play him it’s always going to be a long, hard match.

“After that first set I just tried to calm myself down. Once I cracked through in that second set, I felt like I had the momentum. I knew everything was on the line and I had to try my hardest.”

In the finale, Pollard fell 6-1 in the first set but put some pressure on Kwiatkowski in the second set, taking a 4-3 lead on an ace serve, his second in that game. But the GBN champion regrouped to win the last three games.

Even in defeat, Pollard scored his best conference tournament finish to date. He placed third as a freshman at No. 2 singles, and was third again last year at No. 1 singles, beating Kaminski in that third-place match.

“There are a lot of good players in the conference, so I’m happy with the result I got today,” said the junior. “Konrad came out with a lot of strength today, hit some big forehands and his serves were good too. That’s what gave him the upper hand. My tiredness went away in the second set, and I took it to him, but his groundstrokes were just too good at the end of the day.

“I’m excited about the way I played today, and if we meet again at state, I think I can take that one.”

Evanston’s best doubles finish at the conference tourney came at the No. 3 spot, where Jonah Chiss and Sam Darer combined to place third. They bounced back from a loss to the eventual champs from New Trier to score a 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 triumph against Maine South.

The Wildkits will compete in the New Trier Sectional tournament, set for Friday and Saturday. The top four finishers in both singles and doubles will advance to the Illinois High School Association state tournament.  

Leave a comment

The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *