Nora Hughes played in the state tournament last season, but the Loyola sophomore will share the court on her return trip this year.
Although Hughes proved herself as a standout singles player last year, the Loyola coaching staff decided to switch her to doubles this season.
Hughes couldn’t be happier with the move.
“It’s a lot different because I was used to playing by myself,” she said. “But this is a lot more fun for me.”
Hughes got back to the state tournament by teaming up with Jennie Gault to advance from the New Trier Sectional on Saturday. They secured their invitation with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Evanston’s Caroline Cary and Lydia Collins in the quarterfinals.
“It was a lot of pressure,” Hughes said of the road to Prospect. “I’m glad it all worked out.”
Hughes and Gault were one of three Loyola entries to qualify for State, as the Ramblers totaled 19 points as the runner-up to New Trier. The Trevians captured the sectional championship with 36 points.
“I’m very happy with the way it turned out,” said New Trier coach Allison Rose, whose program owns eight state titles and is looking for its first since 2004. The Trevians were third last year. “It was a good day for New Trier.”
Carol Finke beat teammate Anna Kaplan 6-0, 6-0 to win the title at singles, while Emily Barretta and Gabby Nixon finished first at doubles by beating teammates Rebecca Ritchie and Alana Peters 6-4, 6-1.
“There are some things all six of our girls can work on so we can be sharp for (State),” Rose said.
North Shore Country Day’s Alex Bergman placed third in singles with a 6-3, 7-6 victory over Loyola’s Devon Hubbard.
Loyola’s Meredith Abrahamson and Hannah Post finished third with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Gault and Hughes.
“We tried playing together last year,” said Gault, who teamed up with Kristin Marren at the state tournament last season. “We work really well as a team.”
The state tournament runs through Saturday.