The first day of the IHSA boys tennis state tournament went exactly as planned for St. Charles East’s Jasper Koenen.
The Michigan-State bound senior cruised through his three singles matches on Thursday to advance to Friday’s round of 16 held at Hersey.
“My first day was very successful,” Koenen said. “All three of my opponents were quality players and I’m taking each round very seriously.”
Koenen, who took fourth at state last year and has a 3-4 seed this year, started the day with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over York’s Brendan Peterson. Up next was Loyola’s Peter Horne and Koenen rolled, 6-0, 6-0. Koenen finished the day with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Metamora’s Mitchell Nguyen.
“I wanted to conserve as much energy as I could and I was happy with the way I competed,” Koenen said. “As the day went on it definitely got hotter but I hydrated myself well. I think that’s what held me back on the last day last year so I’ll be ready for it this year.”
Up next for Koenen will be Edwardsville’s Brandon Harris. The two will face off at 9 a.m. on Friday.
“I watched him play and he’s a very high quality opponent,” Koenen said. “I have to be focused and take every point very seriously. He’s my toughest opponent this season and it only gets harder from there.”
Koenen is just four wins away from his ultimate goal — a state title — but he’s trying not to look too far down the road.
“I don’t want to get ahead of it,” Koenen said. “Last year I upset a 5-8 seed and a 3-4 seed and I’m sure they were thinking they were close to a state title. I’ve been taking everyone very seriously and just trying to stay focused.”
Koenen is the only local player to advance in the championship draw but others will play tomorrow in the consolation bracket.
Hampshire’s Elisha Hougland lost his first round match to Libertyville’s Stefano Tsorotiotis 6-1, 6-1 but rebounded by winning the next three rounds in the consolation bracket. He defeated Homewood Flossmoor’s Devohn Hall 6-2, 6-2, Joliet Catholic’s Jack Geissler 6-2, 6-2 and Morton’s Chandler Stimpert 6-1, 6-1.
South Elgin’s Andre Norasith also opened the tournament with a loss, falling to De La Salle’s Steve Hill before reeling off three wins in the backdraw. Norasith defeated Geneseo’s Connor Vandersnick 6-0, 6-4, Springfield’s Evan Truong 6-3, 6-1 and Romeoville’s Miguel Rayos del Sol 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 to advance to Friday.
St. Charles North’s top doubles team of Aaron Amburgey and Grant Spellman defeated Benet’s Stephen Kovach and Pete Mannebach 6-4, 6-4 in the first round and then beat Peoria Richwood’s Zach Settelmyer and Alex Cheng 6-4, 6-2.
Unfortunately, next up was the top seed in the tournament, Hinsdale Central’s Lope Adelakun and Chase Hamilton, who prevailed 6-2, 6-0. The North Stars’ duo will move to the consolation bracket to start play tomorrow.