Although Chloe McIsaac has had a tennis racquet in her hands for as long as she can remember, she can’t ever recall a time when she has been tired of the game.
A three-year varsity letter winner for the Belleville East girls tennis team, McIsaac spent much of this past spring and summer developing her skills by playing in tournaments and working out with both the Lancers boys and girls tennis teams.
And if she ever needs help with any part of her game, all McIsaac has to do is call her grandparents, Mark and Naomi Brunner, who own St. Clair Tennis in O’Fallon.
“I wish I had my grandfather’s positive mental outlook on the game. He just knows the game so well and he knows my game and how I play so well,” McIsaac said. “He’s able to help me with my overall game, but mentally if I’m not playing well or if the opposing fans are getting in my head, he tells me to keep that positive mental outlook. It works.”
For the second straight year, McIsaac put those lessons to good use.
The Lancers’ No. 1 singles player, McIsaac finished the 2017 season with a record of 48-10 and, along with senior Isabel Burwitz, has helped the Lancers finish with a 24-4 dual match record.
McIsaac also won the individual Southwestern Conference championship before capping her junior season by winning the Class AA Edwardsville Sectional singles title.
Honored as the News-Democrat Player of the Year for the second straight year, McIsaac said winning the sectional was one of the highlights of the season. Her three-set win over Edwardsville junior Natalie Karibian clinched the Lancers’ win and put an end to the Tigers’ streak of 20-straight sectional titles.
“Edwardsville has such great singles, and Natalie (Karibian) and I have such close matches each time we play. She is an outstanding player,” McIsaac said. “We would normally play a tiebreaker in the third set, but being the sectional, we played it out. I was able to win the big points and to be the one to clinch the sectional team championship. That made it extra special.
“I thanked Isabel (Burwitz), who had played Karibian in the semi-final earlier that day and pushed her pretty hard. I think my conditioning paid off in that match.”
McIsaac was the top player on one of the top Lancers’ squads in recent memory. East, which fell just short of beating Edwardsville at the SWC Tournament, also claimed the Champaign Centennial and Bloomington Gold Tournaments this season.
“One of the goals this season was to win the SWC title. We fell one match short of that, but we were able to win the sectional championship,” Lancers coach Ross Peters said. “In terms of getting the most out of their potential, this group maxed out. They were tremendous all season.
“Having that dominant No. 1 player who went undefeated against local competition is a big plus. You know that each match you’ve got an excellent chance of winning at that part of the lineup. It takes a lot of pressure off the rest of the team.”
Not only were McIsaac and Burwitz a dynamic 1-2 punch on the court, they excelled in the classroom as well. Peters said Burwitz is ranked No. 1 in the senior class, while McIsaac is ranked No. 1 academically in the junior class.
“I think its fairly safe to say that’s never happened before in the East tennis program,” Peters said.
The sectional title turned out to be the last bright spot of the season for McIsaac, who lost both of her matches at the Class AA State Tennis Tournament in suburban Chicago last month. McIsaac had to default her consolation round match after suffering an ankle injury.
“It wasn’t the way I wanted my season to end. I injured my ankle when I was going for a shot. My body went one way and my ankle went the other,” McIsaac said. “That was probably the most disappointing part of the year. I tried to play, but I just couldn’t go.”
Now back at near full strength, McIsaac is working at St. Clair Tennis for her grandfather, while also playing tournaments and practicing with uncle Andy Brunner, her younger sister Abigail McIsaac and her cousin, O’Fallon sophomore Miley Brunner.
McIsaac hopes to play college tennis and is just beginning to look at potential schools. She hopes to be a high school math teacher.
2017 Belleville News-Democrat Girls All-Area Tennis Team
Player of the Year
Chloe McIsaac, Belleville East, jr.
Coaches of the Year
- David Lipe, Edwardsville
- Ross Peters, Belleville East
- Chloe McIsaac, Belleville East, jr.
- Natalie Karibian, Edwardsville, jr.
- Isabel Burwitz, Belleville East, sr.
- Jennaka Cain, Collinsville, jr.
- Jordyn Roper, Althoff, jr.
- Abby Fischer, Alton, sr.
First Team Doubles
- Grace Desse, sr. and Abby Cimarolli, Edwardsville, jr., Edwardsville
- Miley Brunner, soph. amd Kate Macaluso, soph., O’Fallon
- Olivia Melichar, jr. and Mary Nester, jr., Althoff
- Mady Schreiber, sr. and Chloe Trimpe, frosh., Edwardsville
- Kaitlyn Fiedler, soph. and Taylor Fiedler, soph., Belleville West
- JoJo Skaer, soph. and Madison Hamilton, jr., Belleville East
Second Team Singles
- Emiley Fritz, O’Fallon
- Abbey Byrnside, O’Fallon
- Hannah Macias, Alton
- Lauren Cowulich, Belleville East
- Taylor Fleming, Highland
Second Team Doubles
- Grace Bauer and Melanie Kulig, Belleville West
- Maddie Buscher and Caroline Smith, Belleville East
- Hannah Hudson and Chelsea Maag, Jerseyville
- Kirsten Plocher and Kate Feldmann, Highland
Honorable Mention Singles
- Kourtney Singleton, Granite City
- Annie McGinnis, Edwardsville
- Mia Walters, Highland
- Meghan Dulaney, Triad
- Caitlyn Smith, Triad
- Shelby Jones, Marquette
Honorable Mention Doubles
- Sara Kreutztrager and Haley Milazzo, Roxana
- Zoie Howard and Ali Mueller, O’Fallon
- Natalie Soehnlin and Delaney Foster, Belleville West