Schuetzle battles through back injury, returns to state
Crystal Lake South boys coach Rick Bailey has certainly coached a lot of great boys tennis players over 34 years. Recently graduated senior Jackson Schuetzle is certainly high on Bailey's list.
"Jackson is the most talented, hardest working kid I have had the pleasure to coach," said Bailey. "His connection to others, his work ethic and commitment to the court is exceptional. He is not only a great tennis player but he is an exceptional young man."
Schuetzle, who was No. 2 in his graduating class with a 4.9 grade-point average, will play tennis at Division III power Case Western Reserve College in Cleveland on an academic scholarship and major in engineering.
Schuetzle moved to 22-6 for the season by winning the Class 1A Lakes sectional singles title completed Monday.
The Gators senior defeated Dylan Clausen of Grayslake North in the championship match 6-1, 6-1.
Schuetzle will hope to improve on last season's third-place finish at the 1A state tournament which starts Thursday in Arlington Heights.
Schuetzle, who suffered through a stress fracture in his back this season, was cleared to play in mid-March.
"He could have over 100 wins if he didn't lose his sophomore year and we lost a couple of tournaments this year to bad weather," said Bailey. "He has had some soreness but he has been able to play."
Schuetzle is looking forward to state.
"I want to be the last man standing," said the South senior. "I don't think about the back injury. I just want to play good tennis. I want to stay mentally focused making the right tactical decisions. I want to adapt my game if losing and execute my shots with total confidence."
Schuetzle gives coach Bailey credit for his development.
"I am thankful coach Bailey stepped in my freshman year," said Schuetzle. "I could have ended up with someone of less tennis intelligence. He is always checking up on my development. He gives credible perspective."
How did Schuetzle recover from his injury?
"My comeback from the injury was fun in my opinion," said Schuetzle. "I had to take it slow but it was better than nothing. It was a lot of ball machines in the first couple weeks and a couple of tough conditioning sessions in Florida over spring break. I had to do 30 minutes of stretching. Advil was my best friend."
Jackson's dad Ralph was a longtime basketball coach at Cary-Grove.
"Had Jackson not got involved with gymnastics at age 5 and fell in love with it he would have played basketball as a winter sport." said Ralph Schuetzle. "Gymnastics is a winter sport but is a 12-month commitment so I knew basketball was out."
Schuetzle quit gymnastics in sixth grade and played one year of basketball as a eighth-grader at Lundahl Middle School.
Schuetzle played four years of youth baseball and played soccer at Crystal Lake South his freshman year. The Gators won the Class 2A state title that season.
After quitting soccer, Schuetzle put all his energy into tennis his last three seasons at South.
Amanda Schuetzle, Jackson's mom, is the varsity boys tennis coach at Cary-Grove.
"Jackson is one of the most athletic competitive people," said Amanda Schuetzle. "He is always challenging himself. He handled the stress fracture wonderfully better than I would have.
"I am always questioning him about his back. His focus is unbelievable. He never gets mad."
Schueltze, the No. 5 seed, will play Stetson Isringhausen of Altom Marquette in opening round at state. He will take an 81-17 career record into the match.