Tennis doubles team makes Community history with 4th place State finish

Anna Mayes, Kruthi Sudhir record school’s best finish at IHSA 2A State Tennis Tournament
Seniors Kruthi Sudhir and Anna Mayes competed at State the last three seasons the IHSA Tennis Finals were held. This season, they made school history by finishing fourth. 

Photo Courtesy of: Iron Athletics Instagram // @Iron_Athletics1
Seniors Kruthi Sudhir and Anna Mayes competed at State the last three season’s the IHSA Tennis Finals were held. This season, they made school history by finishing fourth. Photo Courtesy of: Iron Athletics Instagram // @Iron_Athletics1

Seniors Anna Mayes and Kruthi Sudhir made history when the tennis doubles team earned fourth in the IHSA 2A State Tennis Tournament Saturday, Oct. 23.
Mayes and Sudhir are the first female team to advance past the quarterfinal round in the State Doubles contest in nearly 50 seasons of Community girls tennis competition.
The Iron’s previous best finish came in 2004-05, when doubles partners Carrie Larson and Krista Gilmore took 7th in State.
The duo was making history and had no idea.
“To be honest,” Sudhir said, “I didn’t even know that getting to the semis” was a Community milestone.
It was that State finish, Sudhir said, that the partners had “been striving for … these four years.”
The pair’s freshman year, no State contest was held, a result of COVID.
At State as sophomores, the two were eliminated in the round of 16. As juniors, they fell in the quarterfinals in two sets (6-7, 0-6).
This season, they fought their way to a semifinal matchup, playing for third place.
“To finally accomplish that was pretty cool,” Sudhir said.
The doubles team advanced through Thursday’s opening three rounds without dropping a set, defeating Belvidere North (6-0, 6-0), Belleville East (6-3, 6-2) and Elmhurst York (6-2, 6-2).
Mayes and Sudhir entered the competition seeded 5-8; those first three victories, Sudhir said, were matches “we should have won.”
And by “playing clean,” they easily did.
“We’re playing our game,” Sudhir said, staying true to what had made the duo dynamic playing together the past four seasons.
In the quarterfinals, Mayes and Sudhir matched up against the tournament’s two-seed, Stevenson High School’s Abby Ma and Sarah Wang.
Mayes and Sudhir dropped the first set to Ma and Wang 5-7.
It was then that Community’s head tennis coach Mr. Roger Juers reminded the team that seeding doesn’t matter, that they could compete with anyone at State.
Mayes and Sudhir didn’t just compete, they dominated, playing with renewed energy and aggression, to win the second set 6-1.
Community would eliminate the team from Stevenson 6-4 in the third set.
But that second set, Sudhir said, was the one that mattered; it gave Community the momentum to advance on to the semifinals and Community’s record books.
To battle back, down a set, eliminating the tournament’s two-seed, Sudhir said, was the highlight of her career.
Mayes agreed.
“That was definitely my favorite match we’ve played,” Mayes said.
And they’ve had a lot of memorable moments, including a Big 12 Championship their freshman year and a streak of 22 matches without a loss last season.
After the high of the second-seed upset, Community was on to the semifinals, facing New Trier’s Keri Rothenberg and Ariana Lesterhuis.
Rothenberg, with a different partner, took home 5th in State last season.
Community dropped two sets to Rothenberg and Lesterhuis 6-2, 6-2, and were out of contention for the State title.
Mayes had high praise for the opposition, eventual State champions New Trier.
“They were a powerhouse of a team,” Mayes said.
One player, Mayes said,” had the best first serve I’ve ever seen.”
Her forehand?
“There was just nothing you could do about it,” Mayes said.
Her partner, Mayes said, got “every single ball back.”
“We got beat by someone good.”
The team’s final high school match would be for third place at State, taking on Naperville North’s Brooke Coffman and Gabby Lee, last year’s State runners-up.
The opening set, Mayes said, “was tough. We were both getting our nerves out. There’s the crowds there. You have it in your head that this is the third-place match.”
Naperville won the first set 6-4, before Mayes and Sudhir responded with a 6-2 win in the second.
The “energy and momentum” Mayes said from winning the second set carried over into the start of the third.
But they couldn’t maintain it.
That final set still is “kind of raw” for Sudhir.
It’s “hard to talk about” for Mayes.
“It was tight,” Mayes said. Naperville “played really well.”
“We had our chances,” Sudhir said, “they made some big shots.”
Mayes and Sudhir fell after a hard-fought battle, losing 7-5 for fourth place in State.
Community has nothing but respect for the team from Naperville; they challenged the Iron with “a good competitive match,” Mayes said, “and played better.”
“We were hoping for third,” Mayes said, “but we are really proud of what we had accomplished. We were looking back on our whole entire high school careers, and we’re pretty proud of what we’ve done.”
Mayes and Sudhir will keep the team together throughout the winter and spring as they continue to enter Doubles tournaments.
Come next fall, Mayes’ scholastic tennis career may be over as she is considering attending DI schools where a roster spot is hard to come by.
That doesn’t mean she is putting down her racket.
The senior will continue to play club tennis as the sport has been “such a big part of [her] life” that she can’t see herself stopping.
Sudhir is currently looking at both D-III and D-I schools.
“I’ll definitely continue tennis through college,” Sudhir said, whether playing club or at a D-III school.
State marked the end of an era for the semi-finalists, but Sudhir said it was a fitting finale.
“That’s a pretty good way to end it.”

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