Living the dream -- that's what Jasper Koenen is doing.
The affable junior from St. Charles East opened his second day at the boys tennis state tournament Friday with a stunning defeat of 5-8 seed Conrad Harron (Chicago U-High), then trumped that effort by shocking 3-4 seed Peter Tarwid of Lake Forest in straight sets.
That effort put Koenen in today's semifinal against top seed Martin Joyce (Hinsdale Central) in a 9 a.m. breakfast special at host Hersey in Arlington Heights.
"This is just amazing," said Koenen (31-1) just after he was swarmed by teammates, friends, families, and his coaching staff following his second-set tiebreaker win over Tarwid.
The Lake Forest standout never quite got himself into the match with the Saints' big man, who at times made it look easy.
"I felt confident all along that Jasper belonged with the top players here, but it was the belief in himself and that great confidence that he always plays with that made it all happen out there today," said St. Charles East coach Robert Livermore. "Obviously, we're all very proud of him."
"I was telling everyone who would listen that Jasper was a top-four player, and we all knew it out in our area," said St. Charles North coach Sean Masoncup, who along with his assistant, Eve Tubman, were in Koenen's corner from the very start of his match with Tarwid. "Today he showed others just how good he is."
In the early morning, Koenen cruised past Harron, 6-3, 6-4 to get inside for some needed recovery time. Once back on the courts, the highly rated Tarwid (21-4) was unable to solve the heavy forehand of Koenen, who took the first set 6-4.
"If you haven't seen (Koenen) before, you just don't realize just how good he is," said Masoncup in between sets.
Tarwid battled back to force a second set tiebreaker, and once there, Koenen opened up a 3-0 advantage, which quickly became 3-3 until the Saints star won 3 of the next 4 points and the set, which prompted a turn toward the Saints fans, and a big first-pump in celebration.
"My backhand really helped carry me in that second set, and helped me get some big points when I needed them," Koenen said. ""I liked to believe coming in that I was worthy of a 5-8 seed, and I guess when I beat Harron, a 5-8 seed, then Peter, who was a 3-4, it validated my ability and status as a potential top seed here."
On the other side of the bracket, the second semifinal Saturday morning will feature Hinsdale Central sophomore Michael Lorenzini against Eric Marbach (Waubonsie Valley) who upended 3-4 seed Alex Galoustian of New Trier 7-5, 6-4.
Marmion Academy's Jackson Rettig/John Graft were the last remaining team from the area aside from Koenen to be playing on the second day of the tournament. The Cadets duo was quickly out after a 6-0, 6-3 defeat at the hands of Sam Wiener/Connor Wolf of Evanston to finish the tourney with a 2-2 record.
In the team race, it's all Hinsdale Central as the reigning state champs have build an insurmountable lead over second-place Stevenson (48-31) and third-place Lake Forest (30).