Boys Tennis: Koziarz and Chalupczak double up for Elmwood Park
Elmwood Park's Krystian Chalupczak returns a shot, during a match against Leyden. Chalupczak recently teamed with Michael Koziarz at No. 1 doubles. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:15AM
Coming off an impressive showing at the Schaumburg Invite on April 14, the Elmwood Park boys tennis team enjoyed some time off.
The Tigers finished fifth overall in the eight-team field, with the No. 1 doubles team of juniors Michael Koziarz and Krystian Chalupczak placing fifth among the 16 doubles pairings on hand. It marked the first time the pair was together and was made mostly out of necessity, but their partnership proved to be fruitful from the outset.
“Koziarz’s partner wasn’t available, so I paired him with Krystian because I figured they’d place really high,” said Elmwood Park head coach Vasilios Merkouris. “Mike played doubles a couple times last year, but Krystian is our No. 1 player on the team, and he’s been our No. singles player since he was a freshman. He has had some shoulder pain and leg cramps, so I was trying to save him a little bit, too.”
The pair won four of five matches in all, starting with a 6-4, 7-6 (10-8) win over the top Schaumburg pair. Koziarz and Chalupczak then lost to a Carmel duo 7-5, 6-1 before winning three straight, eight-game pro-set matches, starting with a 8-1 victory over Streamwood’s top duo. The Tigers’ tandem then defeated Glenbard North’s No. 1 squad 8-2, and beat Dundee-Crown’s No. 1 team 8-3.
Carmel finished as the meet champion with 26 points, while McHenry (13) finished a distant second. Elmwood Park totaled 8.5 points, ahead of Dundee-Crown (8), Schaumburg (7) and Streamwood (2.5).
Another Elmwood Park doubles pairing — sophomores David Sierant and Peter Hilar — combined to defeat Streamwood’s No. 1 duo 6-3, 6-2; the Tigers’ twosome was then blanked by Carmel’s top pair. Sierant and Hilar (6-6 overall this season) then dropped a match to a Schaumburg pair 8-6, and fell to a Fenton duo 8-5.
“It was a pretty good showing for these guys, as sophomores, at this tournament,” Merkouris said. “They came together at the beginning of the season and played well from the beginning. David was on team last year, so I knew what he could do. Peter walked on this year and is one of the better players on the team. They just work well together, and they’re friends, so I knew the chemistry was there.”
Overall, the Tigers are 3-6 in dual meets, and have dropped their only two Metro Suburban Conference matches this year. But the team remains encouraged.
Chalupczak is currently 5-5 in singles play, and is 4-1 with Koziarz in doubles. Koziarz is 9-5 overall at doubles, including a 5-4 record with junior Toma Balaci, his regular partner. Senior Mike Krueger has a 3-8 record at second singles.
A trio of freshmen — Matt Ziuzia, Nikko Cruz and Patrick Ignatiuk — provide promise for the future. Ziuzia was 4-0 at the JV level before making his varsity debut at No. 3 singles. He has been paired with junior Eric Pozo at doubles, and the duo is 2-1. Cruz and Ignatiuk are doubles partners on the JV team, and look to make an impact down the road at the varsity level.
“We’re in a pretty good spot,” Merkouris said. “We have three freshmen catching on to the game really quickly. They’re very coachable and improving really fast. Everyone else is plugging along. The Schaumburg coach told me that this was the best Elmwood Park team he’s seen at the tournament in years.”