ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – St. Charles East junior Jasper Koenen’s bid for a state tennis championship came to an end Saturday morning with a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Hinsdale Central sophomore Martin Joyce in the semifinals of the state tournament at Hersey High School.
It was just the second loss of the season for Koenen, and it came at the hands of the top seed in the tournament.
“It was a tough match,” Koenen said. “He’s a really good player. I was happy with the way I competed out there. I just came up short.”
The match was perhaps a bit closer than the final score indicated. The two players were on serve after the first five games of the first set before Joyce broke Koenen to go up 4-2. Koenen had a chance to break back in the next game, but failed to cash in on three ad-out opportunities.
“It was a bummer I couldn’t convert on one of them,” Koenen said. “That was a really crucial game that could have changed the match in some shape, way, or form.”
Koenen then dropped the next four games to Joyce to fall behind 3-0 in the second set before regrouping to split the final six games.
Koenen thought Joyce’s experience reaching the semifinals of the state tournament as a freshman probably helped him handle the pressure a little better.
“He was in this same exact spot last year,” Koenen said. “He knows how it is and the stress everyone’s under. I thought he handled that really nicely.”
Koenen concluded his season with a 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-1 loss in the third-place match against another Hinsdale Central player, Michael Lorenzini. His fourth-place state finish was the best by an East player in more than a decade.
“I’m really happy with my performance here and the entire season,” Koenen said.