Jake and Trent Lipka share a last name, but the two didn’t know each other until freshman year at La Salle-Peru.
As freshmen, the two had lockers next two each other, and later, they were the only two freshmen on the L-P boys tennis team.
“We didn’t really know each other at all,” Jake Lipka said. “We knew of each other. He went toPeruand I went toLa Salle. In high school, we were the only freshmen on the tennis team, so we were partners. Our families started figuring out the connection.”
Jake and Trent are fourth cousins, and they certainly had a connection on the tennis court.
The two played doubles together as freshmen and sophomores, but took junior year off before reuniting this season.
What a successful reunion it was.
At No. 1 doubles, the Lipkas went 25-3, won the Princeton Invitational, went undefeated in Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference play, won the NIB 12 Tournament and won the DeKalb Sectional to earn a trip to the IHSA State Meet.
For all their accomplishments this season, Jake and Trent Lipka are the 2013 Boys Tennis Players of the Year.
“I didn’t know how well we would mesh together even though we played together for two years because we’re both different players than we were two years ago, but it turned out really well,” Trent Lipka said. “It was only about two or three matches I had any concern, then we really started to play as a team.”
The Lipkas weren’t the planned No. 1 doubles team at the start of the season.
Jake Lipka was paired with Drake Bruhns to start the season, while Trent Lipka started the year at singles.
Trent Lipka placed second at the Rockford Boylan Invitational and was the team’s lone winner in an 8-1 loss toPontiacin L-P’s first dual April 1.
“I actually spent about a half an hour, 45 minutes that night after everybody else left talking to (L-P coach) Sue (McKnight) about what would be best for our team and what would be best for me,” Trent Lipka said. “She went home and thought about it, and it was decided the next day we were going to play together.”
Jake Lipka was on board with the idea.
“I struggled my first match with my doubles partner,” Jake Lipka said. “We played well together, but (McKnight) could see right away we weren’t going to be undefeated. I think we could have made it to state, but not with as much power as Trent and I had.Trentwas doing very well at singles, but I think he saw as well that we could do something special at No. 1 doubles.”
It took a few matches for the pair to adjust as Jake spent his offseason training with a different partner andTrentspent his working on his singles game, but the Lipkas’ previous experience together made it a fairly smooth transition.
“We just had to get used to playing with each other again, get used to playing with each other’s style again, but once we hit it around a couple times in practice, played some different people in the area and had a couple meets, we started playing really well,” Trent said.
Jake said the pair — which has complementary styles of play — went right back to their freshman/sophomore style.
The duo only lost one match during the regular season — at the Lincoln-Way East Invitational — before suffering its other two losses at the state meet.
“We picked right back up where we left off,” Jake said. “We had two years of experience together. I was playing forehand side back in sophomore year and I was on backhand with my new partner. Quickly, I was like, ‘I’ll switch back to forehand side.’ We went right back to him serving first. It was the same concept we used to play with, we just evolved it because we’re both better players — both better mentally and physically.”
And it resulted in a very successful season for the fourth cousins, who will part ways next year as Jake will play atAuroraUniversityandTrentwill play at IVCC.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.