Big hits, kicks and jumps
One of the dominant tennis players in the Southwestern Conference throughout his high school career, Belleville East senior Max Skaer was fully prepared for his final trip to the IHSA State Tennis Tournament.
By his own assessment, he is quicker, stronger and more patient. After winning the IHSA sectional singles title last week over longtime rival Zach Trimpe of Edwardsville, Skaer might be may be playing the best tennis of the season at just the right time.
“I had a disappointing loss at the Bloomington Tournament, but other than that it’s been a very good year and I’ve played well all season,’’ Skaer said. “The difference this season is that I’m quicker and I’m hitting the ball harder, but I’m also playing with more patience.
“Before, there were times when I would go for too much.. I have been more consistent this season.’’
That consistency has helped Skaer earn a top 16 seed in the Class 2A state finals which began Thursday at sites throughout the Chicago suburban area. Trimpe is also a top 16 seed in singles while Edwardsville teammates Seth Lipe and Gabrielle Montanari are seeded seventh in the doubles draw.
The Class 1A state tournament also started Thursday in the Chicago suburbs. Play continues Friday and Saturday with state champions crowned Saturday afternoon at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights.
Skaer won’t be playing for a state title on Saturday. After winning his first match on Thursday, Skaer lost a 6-1, 4-6, 10-7 decision to Gabriel Sardo of Oswego in his second round match. Skaer must now come through the consolation bracket and with five wins in the next two days could place among the top five.
The youngest of East coach Dan and Trish Skaer’s three sons, Max Skaer has been the most successful at the high school level. The Southwestern Conference champion, Skaer will attend the University of Toledo beginning in August and will be part of the Rockets men’s tennis program.
Skaer knows he owes a lot of his success and his development as a player to his dad.
“I don’t remember who old I was exactly when my dad got me started. I would guess maybe 4 or 5,” Skaer said glancing at the tennis courts at Belleville East. “He’s a great coach. He always made sure I played great competition and the best tournaments.”
Beginning Thursday, Skaer will play in the top high school tournament in Illinois for the last time.
“I just want to play my best tennis. If I do that, I think I’ve got a chance to reach the quarterfinals or maybe more,’’ Skaer said. “This year there is no awesome player. But there a lot of very good players.
“I just want to come out in my first match, play well and take it from there. Here, if a player gets on a roll, anything can happen.’’
No metro east area Class A player earned a top 16 seed in singles. Triad sophomore and sectional champion Jaden Henderson is the top area hope.