2014 Tennis Preview: Bedrock of success on court
Photo: Senior No. 1 singles player Sammie Schrepferman works through drills at last Thursday’s practice at KHS. Photos by Patti Wilk
Lady Knights tennis brings back leaders, battle for conference supremacy
KANELAND—How does a tennis team try and duplicate a 26th-place team finish at State?
Luckily for seventh-year coach Tim Larsen, he can correspond with those very same athletes on how to do that once again for their senior season.
With No. 1 singles Sammie Schrepferman and No. 1 doubles tandem Madi Jurcenko and Jelly Emmanouil all set to return for another crack at State, Larsen and company are pumped to improve on a 12-4 record (21-7 the last two years).
Additional seniors making a return to the court include Colleen Landers and Stephanie Karolewicz, who saw major time along with classmates Mallory Dugan and Anna Wendling.
The returnees, along with a new influx of varsity entries, will have to play up to their usual level in order to repeat as Northern Illinois Big XII champs.
“We have them all, everyone who went to State is back, and there is tons of experience coming back. The middle of my lineup is the same. We had two seniors we lost from the lineup. The junior class is filled with talent. It’s going to be a good year and everyone knows it,” Larsen said.
In his experience, Larsen can tell you that nothing about a good year is automatic.
“The challenge is to make sure there is no letup,” Larsen said. “Some of the strategy of how you play your match, you can’t play flat. The other team might see an opening and get hungrier and play harder,” Larsen said.
Schrepferman comes back for year four, battle-tested and experienced.
“That’s the toughest spot you can play, at No. 1 singles. She sees everybody’s best. There’s not a whole lot that can be thrown at her,” Larsen said. “She plays with a chip on her shoulder.”
Larsen expects a No. 2 slot to be filled with a JV entry from last year.
Jurcenko and Emmanouil come back ready to rock the conference.
“They are a pretty good machine at this point,” Larsen said. “They went to camps again; they really have seen everything. They’ve beaten teams and got beaten by really good teams. When we talk at the fence, any strategy they’ve already thought through.”
Landers/Karolewicz are No. 2 doubles.
“It’s overwhelming; Dugan played No. 3, it’s her spot to lose, but there are probably five juniors playing well enough. It’s going to take a good week to know,” Larsen said. “It might change as we go.”
Heather Albrecht, Katelyn Blaszynski, Emily Lutter are juniors in the mix.
Other returning seniors include Julia Golbeck, Madi Michaels and Jessica Poust.
With the rest of the conference awaiting the Kaneland threat, KHS won’t overlook its rivals.
“Yorkville and Sycamore are schools we have our eye on,” Larsen said. “We know each other and get along pretty well. There’s no coaching tension there. They know what to look for from us. They’ll be right on our heels.”
The season begins on Thursday, Aug. 28, vs. Glenbard North in Maple Park.