Nichols survives injury scare
Loyola coach Judy Bavlsik helps Hannah Nichols back to the bench after Nichols collided with a concrete pillar hidden behind the curtains at the Glenview Tennis Club on Saturday during the New Trier Sectional. | Jon Durr~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 19, 2012 2:31PM
GLENVIEW — Loyola’s Hannah Nichols breezed through her first two matches at the New Trier Sectional to easily qualify for the state tournament, but her opportunity to play at state was momentarily in jeopardy.
Nichols struck her head on a concrete pillar at the Glenview Tennis Club during her Oct. 13 sectional semifinal match against New Trier’s Taylor Tamblyn. She suffered the injury after sprinting past the baseline in an attempt to return a topspin lob.
“I was just kind of in shock,” said Nichols, a senior. “I was hoping I didn’t have a concussion or anything because I really want to play in state and do well, but I was mainly just focused on how do I feel, is it a concussion and what are my symptoms?”
Nichols was put through a concussion test by the on-site trainer, who said she likely didn’t have a concussion and could finish the match if her headache didn’t get any worse.
Nichols elected to return to the match, which Tamblyn won, 6-2, 6-1.
“My character is that I try to always go out there and fight as hard as I can,” Nichols said. “Win or lose, I just wanted to give my best. I knew I most likely wasn’t going to win after hitting my head, but I wanted to do the best I can, get in the practice for state and just kind of show what I have even if I’m hurt.”
Ready for state
New Trier junior Carol Finke has tried to make every second count since returning to the Trevians’ girls tennis team nearly three weeks ago.
Finke played her first match Sept. 28 after missing the first six weeks of the season due to a stress fracture in her right wrist. She wasn’t as crisp as she hoped to be against Glenbrook South’s Caroline Ryba at the CSL South tournament – Ryba won their match 6-2, 6-3 on Oct. 6 – but Finke was dominant at the New Trier Sectional.
Finke, who finished eighth in the state last year, dropped only two games in her four sectional matches. She has worked herself all the way back not only by playing matches, but by taking advantage of her practice time, which has been limited because of her wrist injury.
“Each match, I feel like I’m making huge strides,” Finke said. “I just think because I wanted to be back so badly, I’ve just really been focusing and making sure that every single shot I’m hitting, I’m hitting the right way.”
Consistently on top
New Trier and Loyola Academy have finished first and second at the same sectional every year since 2006, with the Trevians winning the team title in six of those seven seasons.
Both squads have captured the vast majority of their sectionals’ state berths in that time, but this year’s New Trier Sectional was only the second time during that seven-year stretch where New Trier and Loyola swept all eight of the sectional’s state berths.
The following players won their first match at sectionals but came up one victory short of qualifying for state: Evanston singles players Jessica Ampel and Gabrielle Rivera and doubles team Sammi Warner and Isabel Avery, North Shore Country Day’s Madison Morgensai and doubles team Abby Trott and Catherine Hayward, Niles North’s April Hernandez and Dianne Maglaque, and Regina’s Maria Koutsostamatis and Megan Herbst.