No stopping St. Charles East duo
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Nobody has been able to solve St. Charles East's one-two punch of Jasper Koenen and Justin Bowman this season, and nobody came close to snapping their winning streaks Saturday at Geneva's annual invitational.
Koenen and Bowman both won their three matches without much of a challenge to win the first and second singles championships, respectively, at the eight-team tournament. The invite also included Geneva, Marmion, IMSA, Oswego, DeKalb, Crystal Lake Central and Lincoln-Way East, who used their doubles play to tie the Saints for the team title with 14 points.
The 3-0 record for Koenen and Bowman Saturday improved them both to 11-0 on the young season.
"I felt really great today, I played some really good matches," Koenen said. "I played some of my best tennis of this season. It's a good start to the season. If the top two can win it gives us an advantage on other teams."
Neither Koenen or Bowman dropped a set in their combined six wins, losing a total of 10 games while winning 72.
Koenen said being able to adjust to the cold, windy conditions was a key to his success.
"I like it when it's a little chillier," Koenen said. "It's definitely more important where you hit the ball. I hit into the wind really nicely and my serve worked well today. I feel I can hit into the wind as hard as I can and not really go for the lines because you never know where the (wind takes the ball). I felt I played really smart today and that was key in these conditions."
Koenen faced Marmion's Jackson Rettig in the championship match and won 6-0, 6-2. Koenen's first two wins came by 6-0, 6-0 and 6-0, 6-3 margins.
The 6-foot-4 junior is carrying on an impressive family tradition in tennis began by his parents and an aunt and continued by older sisters Annemijn and Liselot.
His sisters both played at St. Charles North and teamed up to place sixth in state. They also both went on to play Division I tennis in college, Annemijn first at Arkansas and then Missouri, and Liselot currently at Houston.
Now Jasper is getting close to making his own decision. He said he visited Illinois Friday and also has a strong interest in Northwestern and LSU; he lived in Baton Rouge until moving to St. Charles when he was 10 years old.
"LSU, I just love the school and they are so into their athletics," Koenen said. "Their athletic program is unbelievable. With Illinois everyone's passion for the school is unbelievable and Northwestern I really like how it is great academics. It's going to be a tough choice where I commit."
Before making that decision, Koenen has big goals both team and individual-wise at St. Charles East. A two-time sectional champ who won five matches at state last year to place 9-16 while going 27-5 overall, Koenen is poised for a long run this postseason citing his improvement at his tennis club in Hinsdale and how well his season has began for the Saints.
"I love the whole team thing, and representing your school is really cool," Koenen said. "I feel I'm a contender this year to do well at state. My goal is top six at state, I'm definitely not making sixth place my bench mark. I feel I can compete for the state title this year the way I'm playing and preparing for this season."
Bowman was just as dominant in the second singles draw. He opened with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Geneva's Spencer Ankley, won his next match 6-2, 6-0 and defeated Marmion's John King 6-2, 6-0 in the championship.
"The last match was probably the best one I had," Bowman said. "I've hit with him when I was younger, I know him pretty well. With the conditions it was cold and windy I was just trying to keep the ball in play."
Bowman, who won a pair of matches at last year's state tournament, is happy with where his game is at but has a few things he wants to work on.
"I could improve on a couple things," Bowman said. "My net game. I feel like my net game has not been that good this season. My serves and ground strokes have been working well."
Marmion tied IMSA for third with 10 points. Geneva took fifth with 7 points.
Geneva's top doubles team of Nick Huang and Ryan Doeckel reached the No. 1 doubles championship. In the last match of the day, the duo settled for a second-place finish losing 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 to Lincoln-Way East in the title match.
Lincoln-Way East also won the second doubles draw. Geneva's Nick McCarty and John Potts finished third.
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