Sumner High’s Zaylan Jacobsen has the chance to reach the Class 4A state singles tennis tournament in the spring, marking four consecutive years of making it to postseason play.
After reaching state in 2A as a freshman, and spending the last two postseasons competing in the 3A bracket, Jacobsen has the chance to make it back this year as a part of the 4A SPSL.
Jacobsen has the chance achieve what no Sumner boys singles player has ever accomplished before: reach the state tournament across three classifications over his four-year prep career with the Spartans.
“Singles for state is pretty tough. Those are the club players,” Jacobsen said.
He has the chance to make history this season. But he won’t — at least not alone.
“He’s competed in the state tournament by himself every year, but I think this year with a new league and all the talent in the singles bracket, Zaylan wants to do something different,” Sumner coach Chris Heacox said.
Instead of competing by himself, Jacobsen has matched up with Kyle VanHout to form the top doubles team in the league while attempting to find a place in the doubles state bracket tournament in the spring.
We both have experience, so we’re both ready to play.
Winning together means so much more than the chance at winning alone. That’s the lesson Jacobsen has discovered playing with VanHout.
“I can always rely on his shot, whether it’s a shot down the alley or (if it’s) hit overhead,” VanHout said.
Over their time together, both Jacobsen and VanHout have been in rhythm with each other, and both have an innate sense of where the other will be on any given shot from opponents. It’s a connection that few doubles teams can build.
Doubles is a lot more fun. I don’t show a lot of emotions when I play tennis, but doubles I can do that. I have a partner to give high-fives to.
“Doubles is a lot more fun,” Jacobsen said. “I don’t show a lot of emotions when I play tennis, but (with) doubles I can do that. I have a partner to give high-fives to.”
“And show off,” VanHout interjected.
“Yeah, and to show off to a little bit. It’s a lot more fun,” Jacobsen responded.
Last week, the Sumner duo played in its biggest doubles match of the season.
Both Sumner and Bellarmine Prep (13-0, 7-0) came into the match undefeated; the winner moving into the driver’s seat for the SPSL title.
Jacobsen and VanHout defeated the Lions’ top doubles team, Jackson Kelley and Alex Collie (6-4, 6-2), but Sumner (9-1, 5-1) fell to Bellarmine, 3-2, ending the Spartans’ chance at capturing their third team league title in four years.
“Looking back, it might have been better to have Zaylan compete in our No. 1 (singles) match, as it moves everyone down and makes all our other matches stronger,” Heacox said.
The end result, though, is that a victory for Jacobsen and VanHout over what will likely go down as their top competition in the West Central District is a solid consolation prize.
“We both have experience, so we’re both ready to play,” VanHout said.
And a trip to the state tournament together in the spring will be the best gift the duo could receive.