Boys tennis: Jacobs' Nelson serves up FVC singles title
Jacobs junior Thomas Nelson felt the only thing lacking in his game during the No. 1 singles championship at the Fox Valley Conference Boys Tennis Tournament might have been a little focus.
Nelson was surpremely confident when he was ripping powerful serves at Crystal Lake South's Jackson Schuetzle, but not as much when the roles were reversed in the second set.
Schuetzle matched Nelson game for game. Eventually, Nelson broke serve in the 11th game of the set and served out the next game for a 6-1, 7-5 victory Friday to win the No. 1 title at The Racket Club.
The Golden Eagles and Huntley tied for the team title with 54 points. The tournament was moved inside because of the cold, rainy weather, with most matches played at The Racket Club and the No. 3 singles competing at Northwestern Medicine Health and Fitness Center in Huntley.
"I didn't feel like I could miss, so that was very helpful," Nelson said. "The serve was on, the forehand was on, the backhand was on, so I just felt like I played really well and it showed in the results."
Nelson beat Schuetzle in three sets in their previous match this season. Schuetzle said he had to serve better in the second set after taking only one game in the first.
"I had to focus on my serve because I know on his serve I couldn't really do too much else different," Schuetzle said. "I got more first serves in, tried to mix up placement. He made a few more errors than the first set. I really focused on pinpointing my serves and the serve game in general."
The two were tied at 5-5 when Nelson eventually broke Schuetzle's serve in the pivotal game.
"I just realized when it was his return game I was losing focus and kind of saying, 'I'm not serving so I really don't need to win this game,' " said Nelson, who was second at No.1 singles as a freshman. "Then it got to 5-all and I realized, 'I need to win this set somehow,' and I focused a little more for that last game. I felt very confident in being able to hold (serve) and being able to win those big points when I needed to."
Jacobs coach Jon Betts said Nelson, who is 6-foot-5, has a serve clocked in the 130 mph range.
"We've been talking to him all year about using his serve, it's such a great weapon," Betts said. "It's one of the biggest serves in the state. When he follows it up with a good first ball, it's hard to stop him. Today, he proved that. Jackson's an outstanding player. The way (Nelson) served, he was in control that whole way."
Jacobs also won at No. 2 singles (Kyle McNally), No. 1 doubles (John Kaiser and Justin Cunningham) and No. 2 doubles (Jed Sia and Brandon Japkowski).
Huntley got its lone title at No. 3 doubles with Jason Coleman and Jonathon Stec, but the Red Raiders were able to tie for the team championship with runner-up finishes at Nos. 2 and 3 singles, Nos. 1, 2 and 4 doubles.
"Making it to six out of seven finals was huge," Huntley coach Barry Wells said. "It was a great team effort. There were so many big moments, it's too hard to choose."
The other FVC champions were Prairie Ridge's Ethan Ormsby (No. 3 singles) and Cary-Grove's Tyler Deal and Michael Csoka at No. 4 doubles.
Kaiser and Cunningham won their first FVC title at No. 1 doubles, beating Huntley's Thomas Patel and Andrew Burkey 6-3, 7-5.
"We played a tough Huntley team, played together, kept the energy high and it worked out for us," Cunningham said.
The Jacobs tandem beat the Raiders by the same score in their FVC regular-season match.
"We played well. Justin and I were really in synch," Kaiser said. "A lot of times we were really on the same wavelength and played great all the way to the end."