Jaeger repeats in D-11 final
Skillfully stroking his way through the competition at the District 11 Class 3A boys tennis championship, Sean Jaeger stood in the winner’s circle less than totally satisfied with his performance en route to winning his second straight title.
The Emmaus sophomore may have been the only person on the Goodman Campus of Lehigh University on April 25 who wasn’t totally impressed with his tournament performance. A carnage of tennis players comprising the best the district has were almost certainly impressed. Jaeger allowed his opponents to take just two games in five matches throughout the tournament.
Jaeger’s coach, Brian Bleam, was most certainly satisfied with his top player. It’s not that Bleam kicks back and puts his feet up when Jaeger is playing, but he could. It’s not that Bleam doesn’t coach Jaeger, but Jaeger also coaches himself. And it’s not that Bleam doesn’t push this young man to get better. It’s that this young man pushes himself to be the best.
When you’re skilled, talented, disciplined, dedicated, savvy and humble you can almost name the score. In the championship match the score was 6-0, 6-1. The opponent was Gabe Knowles, an excellent slugger from Nazareth with a nice tennis game. Knowles, who came into the event as the No. 3 seed, is not an easy match, except in this match.
“I’d like to congratulate Gabe for first of all making it to the final,” said Jaeger in a thoroughly respectful manner after it was over. “He’s a great player.”
Small in stature and with a modest power game, Jaeger relies on speed and steadiness. From the start, Jaeger was all over the court. Walking softly, and carrying a big racquet, Jaeger gradually put Knowles to sleep.
His strategy in facing Knowles was anything but complex.
“I just had to do my best I guess,” Jaeger said. “I just tried to play my game and not focus on anything else.”
Jaeger categorized his performance as workmanlike and zeroed in.
“Overall I thought I was striking the ball well,” he said. “I was trying to stay mentally focused, keep it going and do the best I could.”
“Sean made very few unforced errors,” Bleam said. “That was really the difference. Gabe is a good player and he beat him 6-0, 6-1.”
With his sophomore season nearing its conclusion, Jaeger pondered his biggest area of improvement this season.
“My serve has definitely gotten a lot better, especially my second serve,” said Jaeger. “I’m trying to get my first serve percentage up. It helps a lot. I’ve gotten a little bigger, so I can hit a little harder.”
Jaeger’s teammate and number two Emmaus singles player Quinn Erk was defeated in the first round by the tournament’s fourth seed, Pleasant Valley’s Josh Schaffner, 6-2, 6-0.
“Quinn played good, but he was just kind of outclassed a little bit,” said Bleam. “He’s a number two player on the team coming in facing a number one from another school. Mentally he may not have been ready for that type of match up.”
Still, Erk can take the experience and put it in his hip pocket, for somewhere the down the road.
“It’s a learning experience, definitely,” the coach said. “Quinn could be playing number one at any other school but Emmaus. Next year I expect big things from Quinn.”
But this year is far from over for Jaeger. The championship victory propels him to the state tournament May 24 and 25 at the Hershey Racquet Club. The question becomes if Jaeger wins the state crown, will he be satisfied?