Boys Tennis: Niles North’s Bacalla becoming more attractive to colleges
Niles North's Dave Bacalla winds up to hit a forehand shot to Crystal Lake South's Cam Laktash. Bacalla won the second round match 6-1, 6-1. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:59AM
Niles North’s Dave Bacalla is attacking the USTA tennis circuit once again this summer.
While the rising senior is used to spending the months of June, July and August traveling the country and facing some of the nation’s top junior players, this year brings some added pressure in the form of college coaches watching.
Bacalla, who competed at his third straight IHSA state tournament last month, has not yet signed to play college tennis. He has held discussions with a few schools and knows others are keeping a close eye.
“It adds a little pressure when I see them watching me,” said Bacalla, who said Big Ten schools like Michigan, Illinois and Indiana have recently joined Valparaiso of the Horizon League in the recruiting picture. “I want to do well, so I have to deal with it. You have to play through it.
“I don’t think it bothers me that much as opposed to other players who feel really nervous when coaches are around them. It doesn’t bother me. I try to stick with it and play my game.”
This week, plenty of coaches have flocked to Indianapolis, where Bacalla and many of the region’s top junior players are competing in the USTA/Midwest Section Closed Junior Outdoor Championships.
Bacalla, seeded 20th in the 18-and-under division, opened the tournament with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Cole Buehnerkemper (Effingham) on Saturday, and then defeated Nick Dykema, of De Pere, Wis., 7-6, 6-3 the following day.
On Monday, No. 2 seed Jack Murray (Beverly Hills, Mich.) ended Bacalla’s run 6-1, 6-1.
Bacalla also played doubles with Stevenson High School’s Jeremy Bush, who finished third in singles at the state meet. The duo opened with a 6-4, 6-3 win over the Ohio team of Canyon Teague and Dhruv Yadav, before falling 6-4, 6-4 to Hinsdale partners Sam Bloom and Martin Joyce.
In addition to growing bigger and stronger since 2011, Bacalla said he also has become a smarter player. One example is his ability to battle through tournament play, while still keeping something extra in the tank.
“I’ve learned how to use my energy sparingly,” he said. “I don’t want to use it too much one day and then be tired the next. So, I’ve learned how to prolong my energy throughout a tournament.”