BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. (WIFR) Auburn's Belen Nevenhoven came up just short of becoming the first female tennis player from Rockford to win a state title.
Nevenhoven lost to defending champion Kiley Rabjohns of Lake Forest in straight sets 7-5, 6-2 at Buffalo Grove High School on Saturday.
The junior got off to a great start, taking a 5-4 first set lead off a perfectly placed backhand to the corner of the court. However, Rabjohns battled back, winning the next three games to win the set.
"That one (first set) could have gone either way," said Nevenhoven. "But I think she just had it together mentally better than I did."
It was the first set Nevenhoven had dropped all season. The wind started to pick up and the Lady Knight just could not get anything going in the second set.
As a sophomore last year, Nevenhoven took fourth in state. She is the first female tennis player from Rockford to compete in a state championship match. Her runner-up finish is tied for the best finish from the area with Belvidere's Eva Marcial in 1995.
"It kind of just felt normal to me, until people started saying stuff about it," said Nevenhoven. "I'm glad I did it. It's cool to be the first one. It just feels like another tournament."