Here are five boy tennis players to watch in the Northwest Herald area this season.
Justin Cunningham, Jacobs, sr.
Cunningham teamed up with 2021 graduate John Kaiser to claim the No. 1 doubles championship at the Fox Valley Conference Tournament with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Thomas Patel and Andrew Burkey of Huntley. They once again defeated Huntley’s No. 1 doubles team for a Class 2A sectional title and finished 2-2 in the state tournament. Cunningham was a first-team selection at the Northwest Herald All-Area last year.
Kyle McNally, Jacobs, Jr.
McNally went 49-4 in his high school debut and finished with the most wins of anyone in the state. He won a section title with a 6-3, 6-0 win over teammate Thomas Nelson. The two met again in the Class 2A State Tournament, with Nelson winning in straight sets. At the FVC Meet, McNally won the No. 2 singles title. It was 6-2 at the state. McNally earned first-team Northwest Herald All-Area honors last season.
Thomas Nelson, Jacobs, sr.
Nelson, the 2021 Northwest Herald Boys’ Tennis Player of the Year, went 42-7 and beat McNally, 6-4, 6-1, in the fifth-place match at the Class 2A state meet , finishing 7-1. Nelson captured the FVC No. 1 singles title with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Crystal Lake South’s Jackson Schuetzle. The talented Golden Eagles senior will play next year at the NCAA Marquette Division I.
Jackson Schuetzle, Crystal Lake South, sr.
Schuetzle, who will try to play through a stress fracture in his back, went 32-5 as a junior, including a 5-1 run at the Class 1A state tournament that earned him a third-place finish, the first state medalist for the Gators since 2003. He was a runner-up in the No. 1 singles pool at the FVC Tournament and a runner-up in Sections. Schuetzle, a first-team All-Area selection last year, plans to play at D-III Case Western Reserve, one of the strongest tennis schools in the nation.
Luke Welker, Burlington Central, sr.
The Rockets eldest will be looking to move past his fifth-place finish in last year’s Class 1A State Meet. Welker, a second-team All-Area pick last season, rebounded from a 6-4, 6-4 loss in the quarterfinals, winning his next three games to finish 6-1, including a 6-1, 3-6, 10-0 victory against Finley Buelte of Rockford Christian in a thrilling match for fifth place. Welker’s older brother, Nicolas Welker, who graduated in 2018, holds the best individual result in team history (third place in 2018).