Boys tennis: Crystal Lake South’s Jackson Schuetzle overcomes injury, makes return to state
21 local qualifiers ready for state tournament, starting Thursday
By Dave Hess – Daily Herald correspondent
Crystal Lake South boys tennis coach Rick Bailey has coached a lot of great players in 34 years. Recently graduated senior Jackson Schuetzle is high on Bailey’s list.
“Jackson is the most talented, hardest working kid I have had the pleasure to coach,” Bailey said. “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 NCAA Division III power Case Western Reserve College in Cleveland on an academic scholarship and major in engineering.
Schuetzle moved to 22-6 on the season by winning the Class 1A Lakes Sectional singles title. The Gators senior defeated Grayslake North’s Dylan Clausen, 6-1, 6-1, in the championship match.
Schuetzle will hope to improve on last season’s third-place finish at the 1A state tournament, hosted by Hersey, which begins Thursday at multiple high schools throughout the northwest suburbs.
“He could have over 100 wins if he didn’t lose his sophomore year and we [had not] lost a couple of tournaments this year to bad weather,” Bailey said. “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,” the senior said. “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 Bailey credit for his development.
“I am thankful coach Bailey stepped in my freshman year,” Schuetzle said. “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,” Schuetzle said. “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.”
Amanda Schuetzle, Jackson’s mom, is the varsity boys tennis coach at Cary-Grove.
“Jackson is one of the most athletic, competitive people,” she said. “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.”
The NCAA Division I Marquette commit placed third at the Cary-Grove Sectional, losing to Barrington’s Deven Carse, 7-5, 6-7, 5-7, in the semifinals.
Nelson, who had lost only one match all season before the sectional, said he has been battling flu-like symptoms since prom.
“I was in bed five or six days without being able to play, and I’m still kind of feeling the effects,” Nelson said. “My voice goes really quickly. After three minutes of playing, my throat is as dry as a bone, and currently my legs are feeling it. Lying in bed for a week and a half doesn’t do much for your fitness.”
“I was probably in some of the best tennis shape I’ve been in [before sectionals]. I was super confident.”
Jacobs tied for fourth at state last season, the program’s best finish. Nelson is hopeful for another strong showing. Joining Nelson at state will be the Golden Eagles’ doubles teams of Justin Cunningham and Jed Sia and Justin Brzeski and August Nelson.
Although he isn’t 100% right now, Nelson said he feels confident in his game.
“I really enjoyed getting that fifth place last year. As a junior, that’s a really good feeling,” Nelson said. “I’m looking forward to hopefully doing better this year. That would be really great for college, going in with all that confidence.”
“I haven’t played a lot of the guys up at the top [of the bracket]. I really don’t know what to expect from any of them, and I’m just going to go out and play the best I can and not worry about who is across the net. Just worry about my own game.”
– Alex Kantecki contributed to this report.
LOCAL STATE QUALIFIERS
Burlington Central: Luke Welker, sr., singles
Crystal Lake Central: Logan Wasilk, jr., singles; Ethan Bass and Ben Weichman, sr./sr., doubles
Crystal Lake South: Jackson Schuetzle, sr., singles,
Marian Central: Patrick Kumm and Matthew Garrelts, sr./sr., doubles
Prairie Ridge: Cole Palese and Jaylan Tucker, fr./jr., doubles
Woodstock North: Jason Burg, sr., singles; Erik Hermansson and Erik Sarabia, Woodstock North, sr./sr., doubles
Cary-Grove: Sam Kedzior, sr., singles
Huntley: Aryaan Khalil, sr., singles; Ben Hein and Matt Grubbs, jr./sr., doubles
Jacobs: Thomas Nelson, sr., singles; Justin Cunningham and Jed Sia, sr./sr., doubles; Justin Brzeski and August Nelson, sr./fr., doubles