St. Charles East senior Jasper Koenen had won 64 consecutive sets this spring entering Friday's IHSA boys tennis state quarterfinal against Hinsdale Central's Edward Grabill.
When two consecutive sets went the other direction, Koenen was left to grapple with a deeply disappointing defeat that left him one victory from returning to the state semifinals.
"This was my first match of the season where I was tested," said Koenen, who fell to Grabill, 6-3, 7-6 (4). "All of these [top] kids are playing each other week in and week out and I've been dominating in our area, and I think that kind of played a little disadvantage for me today, not being able to have that moment yet this season where the kid's up a set and a break on me or something like that, and I think he kind of used that to his advantage today."
Koenen said his serve wasn't as effective as usual as he dealt with left knee soreness. He also credited the agility of Grabill, who was able to send back many shots that typically would be winners.
"It was definitely a disappointment," Koenen said. "After I shook hands, I sat in my chair, just really upset, knowing this was really my last chance [to win a state title]. But it doesn't reflect what I've done these past four years, and I want to end strong [in consolation play on Saturday]."
Koenen, who finished fourth in the state as a junior, could land in fifth place this year if he wins all three of his matches today, beginning with a consolation quarterfinal against Downers Grove South's Christian San Andres, to be played in Buffalo Grove.
Koenen won his first match of the day Friday after winning three on Thursday, defeating Edwardsville's Brandon Harris, 6-2, 6-3. It was Koenen's 32nd straight victory this season, all in straight sets.
The Michigan State recruit said it was a thrill to play in front of a big group of supporters.
"Tennis, there aren't many matches where you get tons of people like I had today to come watch me," Koenen said. "I'm blessed with my friends and family who came, coaches, everyone was just very supportive. I'm very thankful for that."
Koenen paid it forward later in the day, continuing his pattern of showing up at virtually every East sporting event he can by rooting on East's girls soccer team in a sectional final at Conant.
In consolation play Friday, doubles teams from Batavia, St. Charles North and Geneva were eliminated.
North's Grant Spellman and Aaron Amburgey won their first match Friday against Lockport's Mike Hasler and Pat Piwoni, 6-2, 6-2, before having their tournament run ended by Naperville Central's Wesley Lo and Daniel Delgrosso, 6-4, 6-1. The North duo finished the season 35-7, with five of the losses coming against teams that will finish among the top 20 in the state. Spellman, a senior, wraps up his career with 109 victories.
Batavia's Ryan Sterling and Adam Maris finished their season with a 34-6 record, dropping a fourth-round consolation match to Downers Grove North's Mantas Kisielius and Chandler Downs, 6-2, 6-4.
Geneva's pairing of Ryan Doeckel and John Potts concluded their tournament run 3-2 after falling in their opening match Friday against Barrington's Ishaan Jaglan and Scott Apmann, 6-4, 6-3.