MAPLE PARK – Junior Madie Jurasek didn’t know what to expect when she started her first year as a student and tennis player for the Kaneland Knights.
Despite playing tennis from a young age, this was her first time playing on a full tennis team. Jurasek found inspiration from the team throughout the year on her way to becoming the 2017 Daily Chronicle Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
“You’re not only out there for you. You’re out there to win for the team. You’re out there to cheer for the team,” Jurasek said. “I guess that’s what’s most inspiring to me and most fun.”
Jurasek stormed her way through the season, going into the state tournament undefeated as a singles player. She won all 11 of her matches, including 3-0 in the conference tournament and 4-0 as the sectional champion.
Jurasek won her first two matches in the state tournament, but fell in the third round to the eventual state runner-up. She also made state last year with Aurora Christian, but the club was only her and a doubles team.
“She’s so competitive. Her personality on the court is ‘I’m going to win this match. I’m going to do whatever it takes,’ ” Kaneland tennis coach Tim Larsen said. “When she gets in between the lines, the focus on winning the match is priority No. 1. It doesn’t matter if she’s hurt. It doesn’t matter if she’s down.”
When Jurasek gets between the lines on the court, her focus is on each and every point in front of her.
“Regardless if I won the point or lost the point, I have to let it go,” Jurasek said. “I have to focus on the next point and achieve whatever I missed in the last point.”
Her coach praised that ability to stay focused on the match.
“Other players, there’s always some kind of an emotional thing,” Larsen said. “We never have those kinds of conversations. We’re all about the business of the strategy of winning the match. What’s it going to take to get from here to the end of the match where we win?”
The hardest part of the season for Jurasek came in the Rochelle sectional final, where she had to face off against her new teammate and friend, Piper Schrepferman.
The first set went back and forth as Jurasek won, 7-5. Jurasek would take the second set, 6-3, to seal the win and the sectional championship.
“It was an emotional match for both of us. After, we gave each other a huge hug and we still love each other, but it was a very difficult match to play,” Jurasek said. “Just being back and forth, having to stand across the court from her, there were other people watching, it was just very nerve-wracking. It was just hard to play her.”
Looking back on her season, Jurasek relished the opportunity to play on a team and the experiences she had both in the regular season and as part of a team that went to the state tournament.
“Not only because of the tennis aspect, but being able to build bonds with the girls was cool,” Jurasek said. “Being a part of all of us going to state. That’s something that all of us are going to carry with us.”