Belleville East sophomore Chloe McIsaac wasn’t born with a tennis racket in her hands. It just seems that way.
The granddaughter of Mark and Naomi Brunner, owners of St. Clair Tennis in O’Fallon, McIsaac is the latest in a long line of family members who have excelled on the courts at Belleville East High School.
Uncles Dan and Phil Brunner where both standouts for the Lancers, as was current Belleville West High School boys tennis coach Andy Brunner. But McIssac has patterned her game after her Aunt Becky.
One of the top players in recent metro east tennis history, Becky Brunner won the Southwestern Conference championship and was the BND Player of the Year before attending Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.
A decade later, Chloe McIssac has replicated both those feats.
“Becky and her family live about two hours away but she comes to visit and we talk about strategy and how I should play against different opponents,” McIsaac said. “She’s always there when I need some advice on my game.”
One of the top all-around players in the Southwestern Conference, McIsaac excelled in both singles and doubles this year.
As a doubles team, McIsaac and Isabel Burwitz were the second best team in the Southwestern Conference and advanced to the Class AA Illinois High School Association State Tennis Tournament where they finished with a 1-2 record.
But it was in singles where McIsaac really shined. She finished her 2016 singles season with an 18-3 record, the Southwestern Conference championship and BND Class AA Singles Player of the Year.
“It’s a very deserving honor for Chloe. She had an outstanding season for us,” Lancers coach Ross Peters said. “The biggest jump in level of play comes from the freshman to sophomore year in high school and obviously Chloe made that jump from being our No. 1-2 player as a freshman to conference champion this year.
“As far as improvements in her game, I think the biggest jump was in her mobility. Last year, there may have been times where she couldn’t get to some balls and would make mistakes on trying to hit winners. This year, she was able to grind out points better and not go for so many winners because her fitness level allowed her to get to more shots.”
McIssac said she played many tournaments in the Missouri Valley Tennis circuit during the summer as preparation for her sophomore season. Because of that hard work, she was able to elevate her game.
“I also played a lot in tennis clinics at my grandparents’ tennis club in O’Fallon,” McIsaac said. “I really worked hard on my overall game. Especially, mentally I think I was smarter and was able to vary my shots a little more than I have in the past.”
Despite her success in singles, the decision was made that McIsaac would team with Burwitz to compete in the IHSA State Tournament in doubles. The Lancers top team placed second in the Belleville East Sectional before going 1-2 at state.
“Singles is really difficult at state so the decision to play doubles was a good one,” McIsaac said. “We just had a really tough draw. The two teams we lost bo were both seeded teams. We actually played pretty well.
“I really enjoy playing doubles with Isabel. She’s a great athlete and we play well and have fun playing doubles together.”