Girls tennis: Plainfield North star Jessica Kovalcik commits to Georgia Tech, plans for future

Kovalcik won a state championship last year playing for the Tigers

Plainfield NorthÕs Jessica Kovalcik reacts to a point in the 2A Singles championship match at the IHSA State Tennis Finals Saturday October 21, 2023 in Buffalo Grove.

When The Beatles wrote “Eight Days A Week,” Paul McCartney was referring to how much love he felt for a girl.

For Jessica Kovalcik, that song would be more applicable to the sport of tennis.

Kovalcik, a junior at Plainfield North, has been playing tennis since she was 4 years old. She was too young then to know how much she really loved it, of course. She needed years of hard work to make that determination, right?

“About when I was 7, I knew I wanted to play at a high level and do it in college,” Kovalcik said. “It was a big dream for me since then, so I’m really excited for it.”

That increased level of excitement comes from her recent decision. Kovalcik has made a verbal commitment to continue her academic and athletic career at Georgia Tech. A member of the ACC, Georgia Tech has won four conference titles and the 2007 NCAA National Championship in women’s tennis.

“Georgia Tech felt like the place I’d fit in the most as a person and as a player,” Kovalcik said. “They have an important balance between academic excellence and high-level tennis which really drew me in and made me see Georgia Tech was for me. The community of hard work from the team was great to see.

“That will ultimately help me achieve my aspirations in the near future.”

Jessica Kovalcik of Plainfield North High School during the IHSA Class 1A singles state tournament  Thursday October 19, 2023 in Barrington.

She’s more than earned the opportunity to play at such a high level.

After finishing third at state in singles for Plainfield North as a freshman, she improved to a runner-up finish as a sophomore before winning an individual state medal last fall. She’s on the fence about playing in school her senior year as she considers her time and commitments.

After all, she’s really loving tennis almost “Eight Days A Week” right now.

“I play six days a week right now,” she said. “Obviously, I have to balance school and tennis since I go to public school. I have a couple of tournaments coming up next month and in the summer. It’s been pretty hectic, but hanging in there.”

Kovalcik said making the decision to commit to Georgia Tech now has been a relief with how much she’s had to balance. She plays tournaments around the country outside of school with private coach Marcy Hendricks and is focused on the USTA Billy Jean King 18s and 16s National Championships in August. That’s on top of school, deciding between majoring in business or pre-law in college and just being a teenager.

A schedule like that might break even the strongest of adults. Kovalcik, however, has embraced the challenge. She’s grateful to her family and friends for helping her learn how to balance all her various responsibilities.

“Time management just helps me keep focus,” Kovalcik said. “I give 100% in whatever I’m doing. ... My coaches, friends, family, they’ve all helped immensely. Just being there all the time and supporting me has been really important with making my decisions and in my tennis career too.”

She’s still got plenty of big decisions ahead of her. After nationals, deciding if she should stick with the school team and figuring out a major, she’s also hoping to decide if she’ll play the pro circuit or not. Right now she’s planning on it and working toward it “Eight Days A Week” like McCartney, but she’s also taking it “One Day (At A Time),” like McCartney’s bandmate John Lennon.

“I do have big dreams of going pro possibly after college,” Kovalcik said. “I’m working toward that, but I’m just trying to go with the flow and see what happens. I don’t want to stress about it too much.”

Hart Pisani

Hart Pisani

Hart Pisani is a sports reporter for the Joliet Herald-News. A New Orleans native, he's been with the JHN since March of 2024. He formerly reported on sports in Texas, Iowa, Alaska, Colorado and New Orleans. He's twice been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work in Amarillo.