By Kyle Daubs
Neither Charleston nor Mattoon dominated regional tennis during the past decade, but those teams still had some top-notch talent, sending several players to the state tournament in both singles and doubles.
The 2015 Mattoon team finished 10-4 in dual matches and won the school’s first IHSA Sectional Championship since 1996. Mattoon finished 66-66 over the past decade in match play, but also captured two Apollo Conference titles.
Charleston captured its first Apollo Conference title in more than 10 years in 2013, while also boasting two of most skilled tennis players the town has seen in awhile.
For this team, the format is structured as followed: top six individuals and top three doubles teams.
No. 6: Alex Shick (CHS Class of 2011): Shick teamed up with Sean Hussey to qualify for the state tournament and win the Apollo Conference doubles championship in 2011. Shick and Hussey finished third in the IHSA Sectional to advance.
No. 5: Quinn Camfield (MHS Class of 2017): Camfield left tennis his sophomore season to play baseball, but came back to play his final two years. Despite the year off, Camfield was talented enough to team up with Reese Bergstrom to qualify for state in doubles competition. Camfield worked his way up to competing as Mattoon’s No. 1 singles player and eventually signed with Kaskaskia College to play tennis.
No. 4: Hunter Levingston (MHS Class of 2015): Levingston was the Apollo Conference singles champion and won the IHSA Sectional Championship for singles in 2015. Levingston’s sectional title helped Mattoon win the team title for the first time in 19 years. In the Apollo, Levingston rose through the ranks, finishing third (sophomore), second (junior) and then as the champion his senior year.
No. 3: Sean Hussey (CHS Class of 2013): Hussey was a part of three state qualifying doubles teams and won the Apollo Conference in doubles three times. Hussey was best known as a football player, but had a real knack for dominating on the tennis court as well. Hussey teamed with Alex Gowin to go 2-2 and finish 67th as a team when tennis was grouped in just one classification.
No. 2: Reese Bergstrom (MHS Class of 2019): Bergstrom was a three-time state qualifier in doubles, but likely had the talent to go in singles. Bergstrom teamed with two different teammates to make relatively successful runs at the state tournament. His success in doubles play will be mentioned later, but, individually, he was talented. Bergstrom continued his career with DePauw University.
No. 1: Alex Gowin (CHS Class of 2014): Gowin performed at the highest level both alone and with a teammate. In doubles, Gowin played with Hussey to win the conference title and the sectional. After Hussey graduated, Gowin proved he was just as successful on his own by winning the Apollo Conference singles competition his senior year. Later that season, he was the sectional runner-up in singles play, finishing his tennis career with three state appearances. Gowin went on to play golf at Eastern Illinois University.
No. 3: Craig Henness & Nathaniel Stoll (MHS Class of 2015): The duo of Henness and Stoll were instrumental in helping MHS win the IHSA Sectional doubles championship. The Apollo Conference runner-ups finished their careers with a state appearance to top off a fantastic senior season.
No. 2: Blaze Taylor-Lutz & Keegan Gowin (CHS Class of 2017): The pair finished third in the sectional, but had one of the better runs compared to doubles teams in the past. The duo secured two wins and advanced to the second day of play in the state tournament. Their finish helped Charleston finish 34th as a team in Class 1A. Taylor-Lutz continued his tennis career with Kaskaskia College.
No. 1: Reese Bergstrom (MHS Class of 2019) & Coby Comstock (MHS Class of 2020): Bergstrom makes the list twice because the pair of Bergstrom and Comstock finished with the best overall finish in doubles competition. In 2018, the two were the IHSA Sectional champions and won three matches at state to place Mattoon 35th overall in Class 1A. The following year, the pair went undefeated in Apollo Conference play en route to a third place finish at the sectional. At state, the duo won four matches to place Mattoon 31st as a team. Comstock lost his senior year due to COVID-19, but opted to play baseball in college.