One more shot.
St. Charles North graduate David Johnson has one more shot to get the Monmouth College men’s tennis team past the roadblock that has prevented the Fighting Scots from qualifying for the NCAA Division III national tournament this spring.
That roadblock comes in the form of Grinnell College, which has won 10 straight Midwest Conference tennis championships.
“We want to get that team win soon,” Johnson said. “You have to win the team championship to qualify for nationals.”
Johnson, who will be a senior in the fall, knows this only too well. He has won two straight conference championships at No. 2 singles and this spring he teamed with David Stewart of Peoria Heights to win the No. 1 doubles title.
“We’ve been able to do a lot of good things,” Johnson said. “It’s just been a lot of fun.”
Johnson and Stewart finished the season with an 18-3 record, finishing with seven straight victories. Johnson was 15-6 in singles competition, including a 5-3 mark at No. 1 singles, and finished the year with a nine-match winning streak.
Johnson and Stewart actually were across the net from each other in the final match of their respective high school careers. Johnson and North teammate John Mittvick defeated Stewart and his Metamora teammate in a consolation match at the state tournament to finish in the top 12, earning Johnson first team all-state recognition.
Johnson also was a starting guard for the North Stars during basketball season, helping them reach the sectional finals in 2009. His success in tennis and basketball led to his being named St. Charles North’s male athlete of the year as a senior and he hoped to continue playing both sports in college.
“I was looking for a small school,“ Johnson said. “I was originally looking for a school that allowed me to play basketball and tennis. I just loved the campus [at Monmouth].”
He played basketball his freshman and sophomore years for the Scots until a stress fracture in his back ended his collegiate career in that sport.
“I have to focus on just tennis,” Johnson said.
Johnson partially credits a more consistent serve with his college tennis success.
“Every match is a competitive match,” he said. “Every day is a grind. Every kid you play at practice is a good player.
“It’s been a great transition from high school tennis. I love the team aspect of it in college.”
All the key players return for Monmouth next season, giving Johnson optimism that the team can finally end Grinnell’s championship streak. He notes that the Scots lost their dual meet with the Pioneers last year by just one match, 5-4.
“We’re right there,“ he said. “We’re pretty close.”
Johnson is spending the summer teaching tennis classes at Eagle Brook Country Club in Geneva.
“It’s a lot of fun,“ he said. “You get to work with young kids and high school kids and older adults. It’s pretty cool.”
• Dennis D. Jacobs writes a weekly On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest a column idea on area athletes who are competing in college, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.