Girls tennis competes at state through wind and rain

Four varsity players qualified for state with three seniors having their last hurrah


Courtesy of Huntley girls tennis Twitter page

Ruhi Gulati, Elaina Hibbeler, Kylie Pommasack, and Dyllan Cash competed in the first day of IHSA tennis state.

By Lauren Courtney

On Oct. 21, four girls readied themselves to compete in their first tennis state competition. However, on this career-defining day the athletes were met with constant rain and cold air that chilled them to the bone.

Singles players Ruhi Gulati and Elaina Hibbeler and doubles players Kylie Phommasack and Dyllan Cash went to the IHSA State tournament after finishing in second as a team at the Harlem Sectional competition. The tournament followed a bracket-style format that spanned over three days.

All players were put on different sites, with senior Gulati playing at Barrington High School, junior Hibbeler at Stevenson High School and senior duo Cash and Phommasack at Prospect High School. The sites were all relatively close together, but it was still a long one hour car ride to get there and the rain delays they faced impacted their performances.

“I had to wait for a while, especially because there was a rain delay, so I had to wait three hours before I actually played my first match. But once it dried out, I [was able to play],” Hibbeler said.

All Huntley players lost their first matches, and Gulati especially got the short end of the stick since she was pinned against the number two seed. As a result, they were put into the consolation bracket. There, Gulati and Hibbeler won their second matches, but Phommasack and Cash lost to Grant, eliminating them. Gulati then lost her third match and Hibbeler’s match was cancelled due to rain. Her match was rescheduled to day two, but she defaulted, unable to attend due to personal reasons. The players did not proceed after the first day of the tournament and went home exhausted after their matches.

“We all just went home. It was a long day,” Hibbeler said.

Across the board, the players felt that the rain, wind and cold weather made it difficult to play as they had to do whatever they could just to stay warm.

“During our second match, we would start warming up and then they would call us off, and they kept calling us off for like an hour. It was very annoying because it just got colder [and] it was really weird because in the morning it was really warm and it felt nice, but by the second match it was freezing,” Phommasack said.

Regardless of the weather, the girls were excited to play in their first (and for some, their last) state competition.

“For some reason during state I had so much energy. I don’t know if I was excited or just ready to play,” Phommasack said.

Despite the tournament coming to a quick conclusion and the major barrier the weather presented, the girls still enjoyed their state competition.

“It was a very good experience for me,” Hibbeler said. “It was my first time going to the competition since last year we didn’t have one because of the pandemic. I would have gone, so it was definitely exciting [to go this year].”