Tennis Preview: Eyes on the prize
Photo: Last year was an impressive season for KHS tennis. The Lady Knights return to defend their conference crown. File Photo
Defending conference champs aim to continue winning ways
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It’s an exciting time to be involved in Kaneland tennis, whether you are a player or a parent, a fan or a friend.
Imagine what it’s like for coach Tim Larsen.
Larsen wants to build off of a second consecutive season in which the Lady Knights had a presence at the state level, and now the team has reached a level in which his players consistently expect to win.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Larsen said. “The approach to practice has felt different. Our JV coach (Dominic Bruno) is in his third year, and I feel a lot more comfortable having him deal more with the younger players. That allows me to deal with varsity and make adjustments to their game.”
With Kaneland capturing the Northern Illinois Big XII mantle last season, adjustments might not need to be very significant.
One adjustment that needs to be made is replacing a capable Class of 2011 core, featuring Stephanie Rosenwinkel, Madi Limbrick and two-time State goer Amelia Napiorkowski.
Napiorkowski took care of business at the last two sectionals, pairing up with Lindsay Jurcenko in 2010 and current sophomore Limbrick in 2011.
“Losing Amelia is big. She was a competitive force and set a great example,” Larsen said.
Larsen intends to sync Jurcenko with last year’s No. 2 singles conference champ and fellow sophomore Jenny Emmanouil for the top doubles spot.
“They are very excited to play together. They are kind of making their own story. Immediately, it’s different than what other doubles teams have done,” Larsen said.
The only other cemented pairing is the second doubles spot, with Jenna Bicos and Jessica Woodward serving as a tandem once again.
On the singles side, sophomore Sammie Schrepferman takes the reins.
“Last year, I really had no choice to put her at the No. 1 spot, she was playing so well. She did really well with the experience,” Larsen said.
The other singles entries are sophomore Colleen Landers at No. 2, and Stephanie Karolewicz at No. 3.
Larsen thinks the lineup has it in themselves to do big things, which has been the norm as of late for the program.
“I trust the kids. The game is not bigger than them, they just need to keep their focus on the opponent,” Larsen said.
With a couple meets already under their belt this past week, Kaneland hosts Belvidere North on Thursday, Aug. 23.
Lady Knights start with win
Kaneland kicked off its season with a 5-1 victory over West Chicago on Monday.
“Good start for Kaneland,” Larsen said. “Very happy to start with a win.”
Schrepferman took the No.1 singles match in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2. Landers dropped her match at No. 2 singles, 6-0, 6-3, but Zwick returned the Lady Knights to the win column with a three-set battle, 6-1, 4-6, 7-4.
In doubles action, No. 1 doubles team Jurcenko and Emmanouil, as well as No. 2 doubles team Bicos and Woodward, each won their matches by identical 6-0, 6-1 scores.
The No. 3 doubles match went to three sets, with Grams and Aly Harner earning a 6-2, 6-7, 7-1 victory.
While Larsen and his team are happy with the win, he said there remains room for improvement.
“We did uncover a decent list of things to work on, so we’ll be practicing hard tomorrow (Tuesday),” he said. “But all in all, a very good start.”
The JV team fared even better against West Chicago, sweeping its opponent away 6-0.
Jennifer Bicos Sarah Grams
Brooke Harner Aly Harner
Cara Lenhardt Abby Meyer
Last year, varsity tennis coach Tim Larsen said, ‘There’s an awful lot of hustle in the varsity lineup and not a whole lot of quit.’ File Photo
Varsity Tennis Schedule
• Monday, Aug. 20; 4:30 p.m.
At West Chicago HS
• Wednesday, Aug. 22; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Wheaton Academy
• Thursday, Aug. 23; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Belvidere North HS
• Saturday, Aug. 25; 8 a.m.
At Plainfield North Invite
• Monday, Aug. 27; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Glenbard North HS
• Tuesday, Aug. 28; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. DeKalb HS
• Tuesday, Sept. 4; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. IMSA
• Wednesday, Sept. 5; 4:30 p.m.
At LaSalle Peru HS
• Thursday, Sept. 6; 4:30 p.m.
At Sycamore High School
• Monday, Sept. 10; 4:30 p.m.
At Rosary High School
• 4:30 p.m.Tuesday, Sept. 11
Home vs. Rochelle Twp HS
• Wednesday, Sept. 12; 4:30 p.m.
At Ottawa Twp HS
• Saturday, Sept. 15; 8 a.m.
At Yorkville Quad
• Monday, Sept. 17; 4:30 p.m.
At Oswego High School
• Tuesday, Sept. 18; 4:30 p.m.
At Morris High School
• Saturday, Sept. 22; 8:30 a.m.
At Rochelle Invite
• Tuesday, Sept. 25; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Yorkville HS
• Saturday, Sept. 29; 8 a.m.
At Geneva Quad
• Monday, Oct. 1; 4:30 p.m.
Home vs. Mendota Twp HS
• Friday, Oct. 5; 1 p.m.
NIB XII Varsity Tennis Tourney
• Saturday, Oct. 6; 8 a.m.
NIB XII Varsity Tennis Tourney