Girls tennis: Lakes' Heuser has a simple goal: Win state
She's humble when talking about her successes on the tennis court.
Fact is, Lakes junior Megan Heuser is the consummate teammate who prefers to let her racket and actions do the dictating.
Heuser crashed the high school tennis scene a couple of years ago and immediately made an impact.
"Even though I kind of knew what I was in for, I was still a little nervous my first match," said Heuser, who ended up winning that match. "But as time went on, my nerves calmed down, and I think I've became more of a leader."
She got things rolling right away her freshman year when she went 41-2 at No. 1 singles. That included conference and sectional titles on the way to third place in Class 1A at the state tournament.
Heuser's sophomore year was a carbon copy, when she posted a 36-1 at No. 1 singles and another third-place medal in Class 1A at state.
"She's been incredible to have on the team," Lakes coach Bryan Plinske said. "She showcases what hard work and determination can achieve. She is a team player. Her third-place finishes set her in an elite group, but she is willing to help all of her teammates and encourage them throughout the season."
Safe to say, Heuser wants more. All of the great ones do.
"The goal individually is to win state," she said. "But I really want us to win conference as a team."
Whatever the formula, success isn't something new to Heuser, as she plays competitively year-round.
Over the summer, some of her finishes included winning a National Level 3 girls 18-and-under tournament in San Diego and a sixth-place finish in another National Level 18-and-under tourney in Georgia. Heuser also made it to the Round of 16 in the Girl' National Hardcore Championships in San Diego. She also won a couple of events competing in doubles.
"I know I have to work on some things," she said. "Like fixing my forehand, my serving, and moving more inside the court and being more aggressive."
But now she's ready to begin her quest for that state title come October.
"She sets the example for the proper attitude to compete and is determined to win every match but does so with sportsmanship and fair play," Plinske said.
Last fall at state, Lakes finished seventh. And while she might be the Eagles' top player, Heuser she has plenty of firepower to back her.
The Eagles graduated Kylie Jozwik and Melissa Variny, who won two matches at state last fall. Returning, however, are seniors Paige Humpa, Kayleigh Smith, Renee Gilliland and Kate Jackson.
"They just need a little more experience at the varsity level," Plinske said. "The most positive aspect of the team so far is their willingness to learn. Across the board, they are soaking in the lessons from practice and hungry for more."
Heuser and the Eagles host a season-opening invitational Friday and Saturday.
Stevenson loaded again: The Patriots finished third at state last year after sharing the state title two seasons ago.
First-year coach Alexxis Kiven and the troops look to repeat as sectional and North Suburban Conference champs. The Patriots graduated Elizabeth Ferdman and Alyssa Glaser, who won four matches at state en route to the consolation quarterfinals.
But doubles state qualifiers -- sisters Athena, a senior, and Alaina, a sophomore -- return after finishing runner-up in Class 2A doubles last fall.
Also returning to the lineup is senior Ellen Ma, who was a Class 2A singles state qualifier a year ago.
Players to watch:
Antioch -- Sierra Ward (Sr.), Audrey Selander (Jr.), Joey Cabuyadao (Jr.), Jenny Horner (Sr.), Zaina Hussain (Sr.), Fayth Vesser (Jr.); Lake Zurich -- Sofia Bryukhova (Jr.), Victoria Tchalakov (Jr.); Libertyville -- Kiley Nolan (Sr.), Lily VanDixhorn (Jr.), Amanda Black (Jr.); Mundelein -- Kylie Brua (Sr.), Mikayla Edquiban (Sr.), Elizabeth Heraty (Jr.), Alexis Hyde (Jr.), Isabel Soison (Jr.), Brenda Mondragon (So.); Stevenson -- Athena Kolli (Sr.), Ellen Ma (Sr.), Alexis Lee (Sr.), Abby Schueneman (Jr.), Alaina Kolli (So.); Warren -- Meg Rubino (Jr.) Sabrina Mella (Sr.), Madison Herman (Sr.), Olivia Wong (Sr.), Aneri Shah (Sr.), Olivia Wong (Jr.), Rachel Shugarts (Sr.), Jenna Bjorseth (Jr.), Sohini Dash (Jr.), Danna Fanizza (Jr.), Isabelle Grimes (So.), Natalia Zamora (So.), Elizabeth Payson (So.), Peachy Johnson (Jr.), Kaija Johnson (Fr.); Carmel Catholic -- Emma Thomas (Jr.), Reilly McGinn (Jr.), Justin Baladad (Jr.); Grant -- Natalie Hernandez (Sr.), Frances Williams (Sr.), Nicole Zbierzkowski (Sr.), Audrey Sampson (Jr.), Angelica Waight (Jr.), Stefania Waight (Jr.), Gianna Vavalle (So.); Lakes -- Megan Heuser (Jr.), Paige Humpa (Sr.), Kaylie Smith (Sr.), Daena Cruz (Sr.), Danica Cruz (So.), Kat Danilushkin (So.), Kate Jackson (Sr.), Aubrey Kiddle (Jr.), Allison Rial (So.); Grayslake Central -- Karishma Bhalla (So.), Mia Falconi (Jr.), Erin Kwon (Sr.), Machena Lugar (Jr.), Eric Heavrin (Sr.), Grace Caldwell (So.), Aviva Krill (So.), Grayslake North -- Hannah Pawlowski (So.), Mindy Kramer (Sr.), Angie Rodriquez (Sr.), Lauren Congalton (Jr.), Rachel Wrobel (Jr.), Robyn Knight (Jr.), Meg George (Fr.); Round Lake -- Destiny Sepulveda (Sr.), Sasha Salguero (Jr.), Denise Carreon (Jr.); Vernon Hills -- Claudia Bilkey (Jr.), Anjali Parande (Jr.), Amani Vaswani (Jr.); Shriya Avula (So.), Sasha Yuzkiv (So.); Wauconda -- Grace Lewandowski (Sr.), Tatiana Gmitrovic (Sr.), Anamari Velazquez (Sr.), Paiton Plucinski (Jr.), Kati Fuchs (Jr.), Julia Fohlmeister (Jr)