MAPLE PARK – In the most difficult match she had played all year, Piper Schrepferman found herself having the time of her life, despite losing, 6-1, 6-1, in singles in the Class 1A girls tennis state quarterfinal to eventual champion Megan Heuser of Lakes.
“That match was incredible,” Schrepferman said. “I feel like I did so good during that match and the score doesn’t really reflect how I did because I did lose, but we went to deuce almost every game, and I was just playing my heart out, and I was having so much fun in that match even though I was losing. It was just so fun for me to be out there playing somebody like her.”
Schrepferman, who plays on the United States Tennis Association circuit in the offseason and trains at the Wheaton Sports Center with coach Karl Peterson, has discovered a love of the sport when forced to play at the top of her game and when opponents are pushing her back. This love and determination led her to be named the Daily Chronicle 2019 Girls Tennis Player of the Year.
“The competitive drive has just always been there for me and that’s exciting for me,” Schrepferman said. “I love that aspect of tennis. I love that aspect of any sport. Just being out there playing such a high-caliber player, the adrenaline rush is just like no other.”
Kaneland coach Tim Larsen said that Heuser and those around her walked off the court and told the Kaneland crew that the quarterfinal match was the best match she’d played all year.
The qualities that made that match competitive are similar to those that make Schrepferman exciting to watch and a headache to play against, as she finished seventh in Class 1A state singles.
“Ever since I’ve known her, she’s been relentless,” Larsen said. “During points, during matches, there is no quit in this kid. She’ll hustle down every shot and when she’s intimidated, when there’s a player that should be intimidating, she’s not, she just plays harder.”
Schrepferman found her love for the sport from watching her sister Samantha, a former Daily Chronicle all-area performer in tennis.
“She’s like my role model,” the junior said. “I look up to her so much, and I saw she was playing tennis and succeeding in it, and I was like, I kind of want to do that, looks like fun.”
While Samantha defeated Piper many times, the two haven’t played recently, with the younger of the two claiming that the tide has massively turned in her favor in their sibling rivalry.
“There’s so many moments where I just bragged to her about the things I’ve beaten her at and she hates it,” Piper Schrepferman said with a laugh. “But it’s fun for me because I’m like, ‘Guess what I did?’ And she’s like, ‘Stop!’”
Samantha Schrepferman was one of the better players that Larsen has coached, but he acknowledged that Piper has surpassed her elder sister.
Even when Piper Schrepferman was a freshman, it was apparent the potential she had. Larsen recalled a competitive match that she had against a player who was then a junior at Elgin.
“Ever since then, I never know what she’s capable of,” Larsen said. “Even if you think maybe she’s not supposed to win this match, she’ll dig in and she’ll surprise you anyway. Going into this season, I know that her goal is to get as far into that state tournament as she can, including possibly going all the way. That’s what we’re planning for.”
Schrepferman has her mind set on one goal next season: getting back to state.
“When I’m playing my best, my attitude and my work ethic are the best,” Schrepferman said. “I get locked in and I can’t be stopped. I’m so focused and that’s the only thing on my mind.”