Kalen Christiaens has been a force this season in class B/C tennis ranks, but it hasn't been much of a surprise, because of his strong finish last year at the state tournament.
"I took second, which I was kind of sad about at first, but I was happy taking second. I didn't even place the year before, I think I lost in one of the first couple rounds, so second was pretty cool for me," says Christiaens, a junior at Loyola Sacred Heart.
He's been incredibly successful on the tennis courts, but that hasn't gone to his head.
"He's great, he's a good friend. He's caring, he's supportive, he's fun to be around, he's not rude or pretentious. He's very humble," says teammate, senior Teddy Muth.
In the B/C ranks, Kalen has had several matches that weren't very close, with him winning 6-0, 6-0. But even when he's not greatly challenged, he keeps good perspective.
"I take those matches as an opportunity to work on things. I Practice my slices or chips, or work on serving volleys, and other stuff. I may lose a couple games like one or two, but that is good practice in the end, and I can use it for later against tougher opponents," says Christiaens.
"He is just really fundamentally sound. He has a good serve that is really consistent, and his fore-hand and back-hand, you can't really beat it," adds fellow junior Stephen Sellman.
His success extends beyond the courts though, as an honors student taking multiple AP classes, he excels in the classroom. He's also volunteered at the Ronald McDonald house, as well as several USTA tournaments that come through town, and when school gets out, as part of his senior project, he'll be giving back even more.
"This summer I'm hopefully going to do a camp for kids with muscular dystrophy. I was blessed with the body I have, and I'm fairly healthy, so I think it's a waste if I don't use it for others who don't have the same physical abilities," says Christiaens.
While last years state title winner graduated, and Kalen is the favorite on paper, he doesn't feel the pressure, and says he would still have a successful season, even if a state title doesn't happen.
"I'd be more disappointed if I didn't have fun. If I lost in the final, it would be a little sad, but it's not the end of the world, I'd get over it," says Christiaens.