Princeton head tennis coach Connie Lind loves the dilemma that awaits her next weekend at the IHSA State Tournament in the Chicago suburbs.

Too many qualifiers, not enough coaches.

The Tigresses closed out the Rochelle Sectional on Saturday by picking up the sectional team championship, and it officially sent six players to the Chicago suburbs for state, which begins Thursday at District 211, 214 and 220 tennis courts.

If those players are spread out among several different high schools, things could get interesting.

"We're hoping we're only at three sites," Lind said. "Now I've got to find somebody to be at all three sites."

Oh, well. It's definitely a good problem to have at Princeton, which entered the sectional still putting the pieces together after a heart-breaking knee injury to Michaela Nelson at the La Salle-Peru Invitational on Sept. 26.

The Tigresses showed they could rebound with a strong showing in Rochelle.

When Nelson's knee buckled, times were tough. Three weeks later, the Tigresses are sectional champions, totaling 27 team points to beat the host Lady Hubs by one point.

"It was unbelievable," Lind said of sending six girls to state. "It was something that I don't think I ever dreamed would happen. When Michaela went down, we really didn't know what we were going to do."

So much for that uncertainty.

The 2008 NewsTribune Girls Tennis Player of the Year, Princeton senior Evinne Dimmig, is making a return trip to the state tournament.

She had to work for it, though.

Dimmig gutted out a 6-2, 6-4 win in the semifinals over La Salle-Peru junior Nikki Kulis, who played Dimmig tough in a marathon match.

A tired Dimmig ended up falling to Rochelle junior Jessica Albers in the title match, 6-2, 6-3.

"It was a really good match, a test of endurance," Dimmig said of the semifinals. "I was really run down, so it was kind of tough in the championship match against Rochelle because of that."

Kulis kept the energy going en route to her first trip to the state tournament.

She rebounded from the close loss to Dimmig to cruise to a victory in the third-place match against Princeton senior Alex Beetz.

Beetz lost a thriller to the eventual champion, Albers, in the semifinals by a 6-0, 3-6, 6-0 score.

Kulis nabbed third-place honors with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Beetz.

"Against (Evinne Dimming), she kept the ball in play and just kept coming back. They had rallies where it got to 30 hits back and forth. It was really a fun match to watch," La Salle-Peru head coach Sue McKnight said of Kulis. "(Kulis) likes to play the game. She has the momentum going with her now. It is a good thing to end on a win."

Now comes state.

"I am excited to go," Kulis said. "I hope at least I make it through the first match because the girls up there are really good."

Princeton faced an interesting situation in the third-place match in Rochelle.

The Tigress duo of senior Lindsey Frank and junior Courtney Schafer continued their strong season by taking third place.

Frank and Schafer lost a heartbreaker in the semifinals to Rochelle senior Mikaela Rogers and Elizabeth LaFleur. Frank and Schafer dropped a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 loss to Rogers and LeFleur to face senior teammates Emiley Brand and Tristan Hicks in the third-place match.

Frank and Schafer improved their record to 25-7 on the season by defeating Brand and Hicks 6-2, 6-2 in a very familiar match-up.

"They have played each other all year in practice," Lind said. "They have never ever taken it seriously. They play good tennis, but they have a good time. The nerves got the better of them. They started out laughing and giggling at first and then they settled down. Then I think they got too serious. They should have just went out and had fun."

Brand and Hicks dropped their semifinal match to Morris junior Michelle Lutz and senior Breanna Black by 6-3, 6-4 result. The Lady Redskin duo then won the doubles title with a 6-1, 6-2 over Rochelle's Rogers and LeFleur.

n Notes: L-P finished in third at the sectional with 15 team points, while St. Bede tied for seventh with four points ... Ottawa was supposed to compete in the sectional, but did not because of the ongoing teachers' strike … State pairings for Thursday's opening round will come out Tuesday at around 5 p.m. on the IHSA Web site.

Jim Cogdal can be reached at 223-3200, ext. 139, or at sports@newstrib.com.

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