State qualified: Urbana and Uni-High tennis players advance to state tennis tournament

DANVILLE - Due to rain on Saturday and the lack of indoor court availability, the fate of two Urbana's doubles pairs was settled at Danville High School tennis sectional on Monday. While both qualified for state after serving their way into the semifinal round, all that was left was determing the third-place winners and this year's sectional champions.

Tigers' Alisa Tangmunarunkit and Luna Morales, both sectional qualifiers from the previous season, decisively settled who were the best double pair in the title match with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Mahomet-Seymour seniors Savannah Amatyleon and Emily Young, who also advanced to the state tournament this weekend in Hoffman Estates.

"I am so excited. I didn't think this would have happened," said Morales. "I am really excited to go!"

Luna Morales plays in Urbana's home tennis match against Centennial in August. Morales and three other players from this year's tennis squad will compete at the IHSA state tournament this weekend.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

She and Tangmunarunkit were the #1 seeds in the Class 1A sectional. The pair won all four of their matches in straight sets.

Morales said their semifinal match against the #4 seeds Adella Bird and Holland Martin, from Mahomet-Seymour, was the most stressful.

"Honestly, that was our most nerve-racking match. We really wanted the sectional championship," Morales explained. Winning that match was step one in the plan to achieve that goal, but it wasn't easy mentally. "We were really in our heads."

She said the great thing about her and Tangmunarunkit playing together is they can adjust mentally and prevail when the numbers on the scoreboard are not in their favor.

"Even if we start losing, we are like, 'We want this'. We are able to get into the mindset soon enough to save it (the match) before it is too late."

Also representing the Tigers at state will be Eisla Madigan and Lorelie Yau. The duo lost to Amatyleon/Young in their semifinal, 6-0, 6-4, advancing to the third-place match, where they faced another set of Bulldog players.

After a nailbiting first set that finished 7-6, Madigan and Yau, the third seeds in the tournament, fell 6-0 in the second set, taking fourth place.

"All of my girls who played at sectionals played amazing," said Urbana head coach Parker Sands. "Everybody knew what was on the line, and everybody wanted to get to state. I think there was a little bit of nerves at first, but all the players settled down and played their game."

With the season a week from being over, Sands, who took over the program in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, notched three memorable coaching milestones this season.

"It feels absolutely amazing," he said, describing his program's accomplishment at sectionals and the first milestone. "This is my first foray taking girls to state, so I'm really excited about that."

His second milestone? This year is the most entries he will accompany to the state tournament in any season since taking over the head coaching position for both the girls and boys program. Sands has had either a singles player or a doubles pair qualify for state with the boys program, but never more than a single entry.

It will also be his first season coaching four-year players like Tangmunarunkit and Madigan who came into the program his first season.

"It's my first graduating class that I've gotten to see all four years, which is very special," said Sands, who also teaches at Urbana Middle School. "I have known some of these girls since they were in sixth grade. Knowing a person for seven years and getting to see them develop into people who are going to change the world is really exciting."

Uni's Ramanath advances to state in singles

University High's top player, Kruthi Ramanath went 4-0 in her run to the sectional singles title. The #1 seed, Ramanath defeated Danville's Anna Houpt with ease in the title match, 6-3, 6-1.

The sophomore dropped three sets in her first three matches combined. Ramanath rolled over Paris' Ava Barrett in their second-round match, 6-0, 6-0. She went on to double bagel Mahomet-Seymour's Emmie Flores in their quarter-final bout.

Before taking the court against Houpt, Ramanath was tested by Danville's Reese Rundle. She defeated the Vikings #3 seed, 6-2, 6-1.

All five players will start their state title runs on Thursday at the IHSA Girls Tennis State Finals in Buffalo Grove High School.