Tennis provided a comfortable constant for Geneva junior Kirby Einck during a childhood filled with family moves.
While her game traveled well, that didn’t make Einck complacent.
Improving throughout her three high school seasons, Einck has cultivated her skills during busy offseasons of USTA tournament play. The Kane County Chronicle Girls Tennis Player of the Year found herself being much more forward during this past cycle, and she’s anxious to see how that approach evolves in the next year.
“I don’t wait for the ball as much anymore,” Einck said, “and when I see a short ball, I go after it without any question.”
Einck forced the issue throughout a 27-5 junior season, which brought her career record to 82-19, a .812 winning percentage.
Her postseason accomplishments included an Upstate Eight Conference River Division singles title, runner-up finish at the St. Charles East Sectional and a 4-2 mark at the state tournament, her third.
Vikings coach Maureen Weiler sensed big things from Einck again after she challenged eventual state singles champion Tiffany Chen of Naperville Central during a Sept. 5 road dual. Einck and Chen split the first two sets before Chen, a sophomore, captured the third, 10-8, in a super tiebreaker.
“Kirby was really attacking each player to begin with,” Weiler said. “I think that comes with maturity, a lot of experience out on the court.”
Weiler has seen Einck’s progression as an athlete and a person since her days as Einck’s eighth-grade math teacher at Geneva Middle School South. For others newer to the Einck experience, she’s just as talented and genuine.
Vikings freshman Grace Krueger, who matched Einck’s 2011 feat by qualifying for state in her debut season, embraced Einck’s tutelage throughout the fall. After first encountering each other in passing while training at the Vaughan Center in Aurora as middle-schoolers, Einck and Krueger formed a welcome bond that only fueled the overall camaraderie between Geneva’s sectional team champions.
“[Einck] helped me become a better player by hitting with me every day at practice,” Krueger said. “When she knew I would be playing somebody [challenging], she would be giving me advice on what to do and how to play them.”
Naturally, Einck saw her own share of daunting competition, and experienced a season-ending state tournament loss for the third straight fall.
De La Salle’s Khalia Powell, who went on to the consolation quarterfinals, topped Einck, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in a sixth-round consolation match.
“I would have really liked to win that match,” Einck said, “but I left it all out there so I really couldn’t be too disappointed.”
Einck and Powell already were acquainted from the USTA circuit when they met at state. Einck plans to compete in a USTA tournament in South Bend, Ind., this weekend, renewing an offseason pattern she always has enjoyed.
Einck hopes the cycle takes her deep into the winner’s bracket at state in 2014. She also would like to play in college and is eager for the recruitment process to gain steam.
For now, though, Einck is not fretting about a thing, which stems from her more aggressive approach.
“I got more confident in my shot-making and I knew that I could finish the points quicker,” Einck said. “There’s no point in staying out there longer when you can put the ball away in a shorter rally time. It’s just to save more energy, I guess.”