Former H-F Tennis Coach Jim Trudeau Believes Competitiveness Led to 1989 State Title
Reliving the Vikings' magical run to the IHSA girls state tennis championship is a Glory Days trip. As it turns out, H-F's runner-up finish in 1988 set tone for a storybook season.
Former Homewood-Flossmoor girls tennis coach Jim Trudeau knew his 1989 team had a chance to be special just by watching practices.
“The thing that stands out to me is how competitive the girls were,” Trudeau said. “They were ferocious. They were really good players, but they got more out of themselves than I ever could’ve imagined.
"They just didn’t want to lose to anybody ever. It didn’t always make for the most pleasant practices because they competed so hard against each other, but they all got along well.”
The Vikings captured their first and only girls tennis state championship that season.
H-F was coming off a second-place state finish in 1988 and returned all six state qualifiers to set the stage for its memorable season.
“After we finished second in ’88, I remember driving home thinking I better not screw this up next year because we had all six girls coming back,” said Trudeau, who coached the varsity girls for 23 seasons.
“We just needed to keep it rolling, and we ended up winning state. It meant a lot. I had been coaching 18 or 19 years at the time, and it was fun to finally get it done after coming close. It was a great bunch of girls to do it with.”
H-F’s title team consisted of Janet Greer, Shannon Flanagan, Ifeoma Okorafor, Ngozi Okorafor, Nnedi Okorafor and Tina Suk.
The Vikings, who followed up their championship season with third-place finishes in 1990 and 1991, finished with a perfect dual record and won all but one invitational before taking home the crown.
The state tournament was marred by bad weather. Only one round was played on Thursday because of snow and, the following day, matches were forced to be played indoors at numerous locations.
H-F knew heading into the state quarterfinals that if it pulled out both victories in doubles, it would clinch the championship.
Flanagan and Greer won their quarterfinal doubles match en route to a third-place finish and Ngozi Okorafor and Suk clinched the championship by winning their quarterfinal doubles match and ended up placing second.
Ifeoma Okorafor and Nnedi Okorafor both reached the round of 16 before bowing out in singles.
“Winning state with my sisters was amazing,” said Nnedi Okorafor, who played second singles on the title team as a sophomore. “We couldn’t have done it without each other. It was perfect.
"Winning state together was not something we talked about, but we were all competitive by nature. If you put any of us in a certain place or situation, we would compete.
"The team was slowly climbing up, and I remember a point when we started realizing that winning state was possible. It was just a culmination of all of our efforts that got us to the top. It was a big deal and remains a special memory.”
COMING THURSDAY: Log on at 6 a.m. Thursday to find out what former Homewood-Flossmoor tennis standout Nnedi Okorafor is doing with her life nowadays.
Want to Talk Homewood-Flossmoor Sports? Join the Vikings' Fan Club on Facebook.