Could we be watching the best finish by a tennis tandem in CHS history right in front of our eyes?
The Charleston High School doubles team of Vince DiNaso and Braden Pschirrer is ranked the No. 6 team in the state of Illinois by tennis reports. By the same rankings, the team is ranked as the No. 3 ranked doubles team in Class 1A.
DiNaso was a state qualifier last season, but the growth of the doubles team has been on full display at practice, according to CHS coach Jeremy Hudson.
“To put it simply, Vince and Braden are willing to work harder than most,” said Hudson. “Vince came in as a freshman with really good fundamentals. Since then, he has worked at getting stronger and has reinvented his service. From his sophomore year on, he has stepped up as a leader and made everyone around him better. In the off-season, he often organizes team workouts and plays as much as he can. He has also always sought to play some of the best players in the area in his free time. He is a unique talent who is also willing to outwork his opponents. Vince was a state qualifier last year and I think that experience fueled him.”
As for Pschirrer, he was the team’s No. 5 singles player and did not play very much doubles. With that said, Hudson said that he put in significant work in the offseason and saw a ton of growth.
“He has always been a hard worker and has steadily gotten better,” said Hudson. “However this past offseason was different. I have never seen someone work harder or improve as much as Braden did this past offseason. He is naturally gifted in tennis, and he paired that with an ethic that is second to none. He developed a variety of strokes and good consistency with his service makes him an amazing doubles partner.
Charleston has never seen an All-State finish from a tennis player in team history.
After the first year, Charleston won the Apollo Conference four consecutive seasons, including a Sectional championship in 1984. Jim Sexton, John Whittenbarger, Ian Barford, Rob Weidner, and Rezwan Lateef were mainstays during those runs but never placed high enough at the state competition.
Mark Emberly qualified for state in 1988 and was ranked 24th in the Western Tennis Association boys 16s that year. He qualified for state again in 1989. Scott Holycross qualified for state in 1990 and 1991, while Chris Collins and Brian Haberer made it to state as a doubles team in 1992. From 1993 to 1996 there are no records showing any member for CHS made state. IHSA did not start keeping track of sectionals until 1996.
The 1998 squad, coached by Doug Reynolds, won a Sectional title and is considered the best finish by a team in CHS history. CHS featured two individual state qualifiers that year and two doubles team. The 1998 squad finished 41st as a team in the state tournament when the IHSA offered a one-class system. The other highest finish in team history is Blaze Taylor Lutz and Keegan Gowin paired as a doubles team to finish 34th at the state tournament, but that was in a two-class system, which started in 2016.
There have been some other notable players that are on record. Ryan Shick, class of 2003, won the team MVP award three years in a row, including leading the 2003 team to their first Apollo Conference championship in six years. Shick eventually came back to coach Charleston’s boy’s tennis team for three years. Sean Hussey, class of 2013, led CHS to their last Apollo Conference championship in 2013. Hussey, and Alex Gowin, CHS class of 2014, are the only CHS tennis players on record to qualify for the state tournament three times.
There is plenty of seasons left for the two to grow as well as the Apollo Championships next week. However, the two have done enough to be recognized by the state for now.
“Individually, they are great players, but together they are even better,” said Hudson. “The two of them have great chemistry and truly enjoy playing with each other.”