Stevenson’s Kiven, Kirsch are doubly tough
Stevenson's Lexi Kiven hits a forehand during the New Trier Tournament on Saturday. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 4, 2011 6:00PM
This is a 1-2 punch that is also a double threat.
Stevenson coach Tom Stanhope can use sophomore Lexxi Kiven and freshman Kendall Kirsch at the top of his singles lineup. He’s also comfortable pairing them up on the doubles court.
The latter option was hammered home during Saturday’s finals of the New Trier Invitational against the host Trevians. The Patriots lost the dual 3-2, but Kiven and Kirsch provided a major highlight by winning 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1 doubles.
“You can tell they’ve both played some doubles,” Stanhope said. “They both got into the net, and they can rely on their strokes (to put the ball away).”
When called upon, Kiven and Kirsch will be an intimidating pair.
“Teams will have a hard time getting the ball by them, because they’re both very tall players,” Stanhope said. “They’re very capable of holding serve by hitting the ball deep. And for two underclassmen, they volley exceptionally well.”
Kiven is certainly capable of taking care of business at No. 1 singles.
“Lexxi has gotten a lot stronger,” noted Stanhope, aware Kiven trained at Five Seasons in Northbrook.
As her sophomore campaign commences, Kiven is a different player from 2010.
“She seems a lot more confident,” Stanhope said. “Her mental focus is much better and her pacing between points is better.”
Kiven is doing all the little things necessary to be an elite player.
“She’s always been a powerful and aggressive player,” the coach added. “Now, she’s keeping her serves deep in the box, and she’s placing them well.”
Kirsch figures to deliver plenty of Ws from the No. 2 singles slot.
“Kendall is very fast on the court,” Stanhope said. “She gets to every ball, and not much gets past her.”
She’s also adept at changing styles whenever necessary.
“She can hit the ball flat or use a lot of topspin,” the coach said. “She can change the pace of a point.”
Double trouble: With Kiven and Kirsch slated to play mostly singles, the No. 1 doubles job will belong to junior Gabby Demchenko and sophomore Danielle Vasiliev.
The pair figure to be up to the challenge, as they collected four victories in the IHSA State Tournament last fall.
“They have the experience of playing together,” Stanhope said. “Gabby is very tall and athletic, so she’s able to cover the net and be aggressive. She takes pride in being active at the net.
“Danielle has a nice forehand,” the coach continued. “Her ground strokes are probably the best on the team. And her serve has improved tremendously.”
Taken as a whole, Stanhope believes Demchenko and Vasiliev “are definitely a better team than last year.”
Recap: Stevenson improved to 3-0 by taking care of Glenbrook South 7-2 on Monday.
In earlier matches, the Patriots beat Fremd (7-0) and Hersey (7-0). The club has received a big lift from the No. 2 doubles team of freshmen Zoe Manion and Kaylin Dong.
“They both have tournament experience,” Stanhope said. “They’re both putting the ball deep on their returns, and not giving the other teams any opportunities (to be aggressive).”
Stanhope still sees Lake Forest as the team to beat in the North Suburban Lake, even though top player Maddie Lipp will not be a Scout as she concentrates on USTA Tournaments this fall.
“Lake Forest will still be tough,” Stanhope said. “Our goal is to win conference and get as many players to state as possible.”