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Missouri Valley / St. Louis

Tennis Stays in the Koons Family

Jamie Hansen | September 30, 2020

Jonathan Koons didn’t know a simple neighborhood game of tennis a little over a decade ago would change the course of his life – and later on – the course of his sister Chloe’s life. 


But here we are. Jonathan is now an assistant girls tennis coach at Edwardsville High School and in this crazy COVID-19 abbreviated season, Chloe has yet to drop a set in her sophomore campaign at Edwardsville. 


When Jonathan was 12-years-old in Edwardsville, Ill., a friend told him he was taking tennis at the local YMCA and said it was fun. That was all. 


“It was common for the kids in my neighborhood to play outside, and it wasn’t long before the whole lot of us were playing tennis,” Jonathan said. “I fell in love with it right away. Granted, all I knew of the sport was how to hit a ball to someone from across the cul de sac. Still, that was enough to inspire me to continue with it.”


Chloe, ever the younger sibling, wanted to play too. At first, she was the designated ball kid. Many of us have been there. She bided her time and eventually got to hit the ball. She loved it, as well. 


Neither Jonathan nor Chloe realized they were good players until long after they began playing. That came much later. But good they are.  Jonathan had a storied prep career at Edwardsville, a Southern Illinois tennis powerhouse under the tutelage of coaching legend Dave Lipe. Jonathan was a three-year letterwinner for the Tigers. 


For Jonathan, it has truly come full circle now that he is coaching with Lipe – in addition to coaching his younger sister. 

“Dave’s coaching style is unique, and his attention to detail, both regarding fundamentals and strategy, makes him an incredible asset to have in one’s corner,” Jonathan said. “There have been countless times, both as a competitor and a coach, where I have struggled to identify what best method to utilize against an opponent, and whether in or out of moments such as that, his counsel is paramount. His insight and passion for the game place him near the top of people whom I admire most.”


For Chloe, it is great being coached by her brother and hitting partner, as well one of Illinois best coaches.


“I honestly was just enjoying the game,” Chloe said. “I didn’t really think at any point that I could be really good at it. That just wasn’t my thought process. I think I realized last year how good I would like to be at the game.”


Chloe became the No. 1 singles player for Edwardsville in her freshman season, finishing the year with a 28-11 record. One of the biggest improvements from her first year on the team to now – according to Jonathan – has been her mental game. Chloe believes her main strength remains her consistency. That consistency is a huge factor in her success this season. 


Unfortunately, COVID-19 has cancelled the state championships in Illinois, as well as many tournaments, including Edwardsville’s host tournament, but Chloe and the Tigers are making the best of each opportunity on the court.


“Chloe’s biggest strength would be her capacity for mental clarity in moments of great and potential difficulty,” Jonathan said. “Despite feeling pressure, like anyone else, she manages, almost always, to step back, regain her composure, and look immediately toward what might secure her a victory. Even on occasions where she will lose, she will never stay sour. She will continue to get up and push forward as to better herself more each day. For this, I admire her greatly, and, frankly speaking, I look up to her and her determination.”


The respect and love the pair have for each other is obvious. Jonathan has been Chloe’s hitting partner for years and never held back. This has paid dividends for Chloe’s game. For Jonathan, his respect for the game has only grown since becoming a coach. 


“My favorite aspect of the game is how arduous it is,” Jonathan said. “I’ve had the opportunity to play many other sports and have always been athletically inclined. Still, no other sport has struck me as being quite so challenging. Mentally and physically, it is an exhaustive sport, and demands every facet of a person to be at all times engaged and determined. I enjoy being challenged, and as I have begun to coach, I have only grown to respect the game or tennis more and more.”


The mental challenge is Chloe’s favorite part of the game, as well. The siblings also share a favorite shot, which makes perfect sense considering they are hitting partners. 


Drop shot. What is so great about the drop shot?


“My favorite tennis shot is definitely the drop shot,” Chloe said. “I feel like I have complete control, and there’s nothing like the satisfaction you get from hitting the perfect drop shot winner.”


So, does tennis stay strictly on the court? The entire family stays heavily involved in the game. Jonathan said there are teaching moments in unlikely settings and the pair likes to take advantage.  Tennis has become a natural part of their lives – and will likely be for years to come. Chloe is interested in playing in college. Jonathan plans to keep on coaching.


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