Anastasia Goncharova played better on the second day of the Illinois High School Association Class 2A state tournament than she did on the first day.
But the best may be yet to come for the Evanston senior, who is only two wins away from what could be the first singles state championship in the history of the ETHS girls tennis program.

Goncharova defeated two players seeded in the top 16 — Stevenson’s Zoe Taylor and Hinsdale Central’s Olivia Oosterbaan — on Friday and advanced to the state semifinals for the second year in a row.

She’ll meet Deerfield’s Emily Casati in Saturday’s semifinal matchup at Buffalo Grove High School. Top-seeded Kolie Allen of Glenbard East and Michelle Bacalla of Niles North also advanced to the semifinals.

After tripping Oosterbaan — a 9 through 16 seed — by a 6-2, 6-0 margin, Goncharova overcame a slow start against Taylor in the quarterfinals and scored a 6-3, 6-3 triumph. Taylor entered tourney play as a 5-8 seed.

With four straight wins at the tournament, Goncharova broke her own school record for victories in a single season and will take a 23-1 record into the final day of the competition.

“I definitely played well today, but I can still improve,” said the ETHS senior after knocking Taylor into the consolation bracket. “I’m never satisfied with my game.

“I got down 2-0 (in the first set) against her, but I knew I just needed to find my rhythm. The shots were there and I just wasn’t executing them well. It was a tough battle, for sure, and there were a lot of long points in some of those games. At the end I think I did a better job of executing my shots than she did.”

Goncharova captured four straight games following that 0-2 start in the first set, missed an overhead attempt that helped Taylor close to within 4-3, and then closed out the set. She capitalized on Taylor’s poor serving in the second set to build a 5-1 advantage, then used an ace serve and Taylor’s return into the net to advance to Saturday.

Earlier Friday, Goncharova had no problems topping Hinsdale Central’s Oosterbaan in a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinals.

“I was not feeling too great today (due to an ailing hamstring injury) but I knew what I had to do against her, and I did it,” Goncharova said. “She loves to hit with power, so I tried not to hit into her strike zone and I used all the parts of my game. And I’m at the point now where I can grind it out no matter what’s going on with my body or my mind.”

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.

Dennis Mahoney

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for Evanston Township High School.

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