St. Charles East, Senior, Boys Tennis
Why he was selected: Won the Upstate Eight Conference River boys tennis title at No. 1 singles in Saturday's conference tournament
St. Charles East senior Jasper Koenen has followed up last year's fourth-place state finish with a sizzling senior season, continuing his unbeaten runs at Saturday's UEC River tournament. Koenen, who was unable to train from November through February with an injury, is the Kane County Chronicle-St. Charles Bank & Trust Athlete of the Week. The Michigan State recruit spoke with Chronicle sports editor Jay Schwab about his bounce-back from injury and the upcoming IHSA sectional and state tournaments. The following is an edited transcript:
Were you frustrated that you lost that time [when you were out] with your injury?
There was definitely things I wanted to get done and work on. I just had a really good tournament at the Midwest Championships, I got to the semifinals in November, and I was really looking forward to the winter season. But I think in other terms, looking at the positive side of it, it's definitely given me new life, kind of refreshed, a restart. Being away from the court really showed how much I love the sport and how much I missed it.
What do you view as your biggest challenge next weekend at sectionals?
My goal is to win it again for the fourth straight year but I think there are so many different players that can come out that weekend. I think the draw is going to play a big part, what the draw is going to look like. Right now I have no clue who will even be the second seed. … I just think whoever comes out and competes best will come out on top next weekend. It's definitely a really open field in the second to sixth seed position. I'm curious to know who that'll be and who I'll face in the tournament.
If next weekend goes well for you, is it too early to have any clue how you might be seeded for state?
I actually just heard news [Saturday] that the No. 1 player from New Trier is out with a back stress fracture. Michael Lorenzini is out, he quit Hinsdale Central's team earlier this season. … I know that Martin Joyce (of Hinsdale Central) is playing singles. I think based off of last year I'm the second best returning player. … I think that second seed at state would be where I'd come in.