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Schwab: Spartan hospitality wins over East’s Koenen

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 5:33 a.m. CDT

Jasper Koenen’s planned career in hospitality management could make travel a centerpiece of his professional life, but for now, the St. Charles East senior is happy to scale back on his road-tripping.

Koenen made the first of five scheduled college official visits over the weekend to Michigan State, then promptly nixed his plans for the other four after committing to the Spartans’ men’s tennis program on Sunday night.

Koenen, who finished fourth in the IHSA State Tournament singles draw as a junior, said Michigan State’s hospitality management program set the school apart from some of the other Big Ten and SEC programs he was considering.

“There’s a Dutch guy on the team and so with me being Dutch, that was really cool, and then Friday I got a presentation from the adviser of the hospitality management department, and she just blew me away,” Koenen said. “Even the coach said it was one of the best presentations he had ever seen.”

Koenen becomes the third member of his immediate family who will play Division I college tennis, following older sisters Annemijn (Arkansas and Missouri) and Liselot, who recently transferred from Houston to Georgetown.

Considering how busy he is this school year – Koenen is president of East’s student council – freeing up a few weekends by finalizing his college decision was a welcome development.

The powerful Koenen said he was able to build off the momentum of his surprise run to the IHSA state semifinal round in the spring in the months that followed.

“I had a great summer,” Koenen said. “I had some wins against players I’d never beaten before, had some really good tournaments, and I was really glad how after high school tennis my tennis just kept rising, and I have more goals to improve different parts of my game, which is really exciting. But high school tennis was something really great and gave me a lot of confidence going into my summer of tournaments.”

On the USTA tournament circuit, Koenen is longtime doubles partners with Davis Crocker, of Kalamazoo, Mich. Crocker has committed to play college tennis at the University of Michigan.

“He’s pretty excited for me and ready to be rivals [in the Big Ten], but we will still be playing doubles this year in all the tournaments leading up to college,” Koenen said.

More STC commitments: A pair of other St. Charles athletes recently made Division I college commitments.

Mike Novotny, a senior goalkeeper for the St. Charles East boys soccer team, committed to Eastern Illinois, he announced Monday on his Twitter page. The announcement came just a couple hours after Novotny turned in an impressive performance in goal as the Saints blanked Wheaton Academy, 2-0.

A couple days earlier, St. Charles North girls soccer’s Ashlyn Walter decided on Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Walter, a senior forward, was among the top scoring threats for the Upstate Eight Conference River champion North Stars in the spring.

Shuttle run: St. Charles East will offer overflow parking for Friday night’s home football game against St. Charles North in the Sears section of the Charlestowne Mall, East announced Tuesday.

East athletic director Mike Sommerfeld said a shuttle between Charlestowne and the school will run between 6 and 10 p.m. Friday. 

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or jschwab@shawmedia.com.

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