Connor, Hedges go 2-2 at state

Michael Barthelemy and Chris Werner

Evanston’s doubles team of seniors Margot Connor and Annie Hedges reached the second day of competition at the state tournament after going 2-1 on Thursday, but were knocked out after losing their first match on Friday in the double elimination format.

“It’s a great accomplishment to get into the second day,” coach Joyce Anderson said. “They had a good attitude when they came off the court after the second match loss. They focused on the positives and the things that they did well and they kept it light. They always have fun.”

The pair, while ending with a .500 record, was able to dominate stretches of their matches. During their first match against Schaumberg, the duo won 9 of their last 11 games after falling behind 4-5 in the first set. They ended up winning the match 7-5, 6-2.

Hedges and Connor reached the state tournament as juniors last year and showed great improvement this time around. They did not qualify for the second day of competition last year, and reaching day two at state became the mission for this year’s season.

“Our main goal the whole season leading up to state was that we wanted to do better than we had last year,” Connor explained. “We really wanted to prove that we were good enough and that we had worked hard enough to advance to the second day.”

The pair implemented more strategy specific to doubles at state this year, which was a factor in their success. Doubles strategy includes more net play, mixing up types of shots, spin, ball placement and playing the angles.

The team did all this while Hedges was sick and had a fever, as pointed out by both Connor and Hedges. While this was an inconvenience for the pair, they were able to work through it and still put their best foot forward.

“It definitely wasn’t what I wanted to happen at state, it’s the one weekend out of the year that I would rather have not been sick,” Hedges said. “But I think we definitely played around it and tried to not let that impact our game.”

Being able to pick each other up during hard times, such as when Hedges was ill, is a large advantage of playing doubles. Anderson believes that the younger players will learn from the pair’s success and that they will be viewed as role models for years to come.

“Margot and Annie have shown that you can be all different types of players and play doubles and be successful,” Anderson said. “Margot’s a big hitter. She has a huge serve and a big forehand. Annie’s more scrappy. She’s fast and she’s quick at the net. It shows the other girls you can be like Annie and basically start playing freshman year and if you work really hard you can be a state qualifier junior or senior year.”