West Point-bound Kirby Einck of Geneva continues to make points

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Kirby Einck is balancing mixed emotions this week.

Bittersweet, knowing that this will be the Geneva senior’s fourth, and last, state tennis meet. Next year Einck will be at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where she was accepted in September.

Einck, though, seems determined to go out with a bang.

“It’s a good year to go off,” Einck said. “I think I’ve had probably my best year. I’ve played good tennis and I feel I am imposing my game on my opponent.”

The results back up Einck’s words.

She is 21-2 on the season, her only losses coming to defending state champion Tiffany Chen of Naperville Central. She won all four sectional matches in straight sets, dropping just four games in the process. Einck has drawn a top 32 seed at state, and will open with Wauconda freshman Sarah Hackman on Thursday in Palatine.

Play begins Thursday morning at 14 sites and continues through Saturday.

Einck’s ground strokes remain steady, her first serve has improved, and she’s going to the net better.

“I feel if I can play as well as I did last weekend I should have a pretty good run,” she said.

Einck has gone 4-2 the last two years at state, winning her first two matches last year. The one that still sticks with her, though, is the three-setter a worn-out Einck lost in the consolation bracket.

To maintain peak condition, Einck adopted a no-bread diet this year and is limiting her practice time this week.

“I’m taking quantity over quality,” Einck said.

Einck will be joined this weekend by sophomore teammate Grace Krueger, also in the singles bracket for the second straight year.

Kaneland, likewise, again has senior Sammie Schrepferman (27-4) in the singles draw and seniors Angelica Emmanouil and Madison Jurcenko in the doubles bracket.

Emmanouil/Jurcenko (31-0), who won four matches at state last year, won their sectional final match 6-0, 6-0 and were awarded a top 32 seed in the doubles draw. The two are making their third state appearance together, Jurcenko’s fourth.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen them play any better than they did at sectionals,” Kaneland coach Tim Larsen said. “Their reaction to the ball, their ability to scramble and put it in smart places —it seemed like they were in control of everything. I think anything less than what they did last year would feel like a disappointment.”

Oswego East junior Jaiere Harlow will also be making her third state trip. One big difference — this will be the first time without big sister Sajela, since graduated.

“Jaiere took over the role of first singles and hasn’t missed a beat,” Oswego East coach Peter Conrad said. “She is a strong physical player, but her mental game and ability to never get rattled will make her a strong bet to go far in the tournament.”

Waubonsie Valley will be represented by senior Susanna Rantanen in the singles draw and sophomores Abbey Glavin and Serena Zhu in doubles. Rosary is sending its doubles team of Megan Conlin and Maddy Deufel.

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