Tennis ace repeats as state champ, raising expectations higher than ever
By Anthony Schlass, Current Staff
Lexi Keberle is accustomed to winning—just ask the 61 opponents she’s defeated so far in high school.
In her short high school tennis career, East sophomore Keberle has not lost a single match and is 61-0. She also has two state singles titles under her belt, including last month’s victory over the second-seeded Emily Kolbow from Arrowhead.
“The match point hit the net and rolled over and there was no way she could’ve gotten to it. No one cheered at first because they didn’t know what happened and then once they found out, it was pretty exciting when they said it was match point,” Keberle said.
Repeating as state champion was an extreme experience. “It was fist pumps left and right from the girl I was playing and it was just really intense,” Keberle said.
This year’s state finals match was complete dominance with scores of 6-2 and 6-3 in favor of Keberle. Last year, Keberle won a state title with scores of 6-4, 0-6 and 6-3. “Last year people said I was rushing around a lot and not taking my time in between points,” said Keberle, who as a freshman became the first state tennis champion in school history.
Keberle is surrounded by a supporting cast of teammates. “We are mostly sophomores and all five of us came in last year so we are all best friends pretty much, which really helps,” Keberle said.
“You must prove yourself every time you walk out on the court.”
– Lexi Keberle
“I started tennis when I was three or four at Pleasant Valley during pee wee lessons,” Keberle said. Keberle trains intensively every weekday with her four coaches. Her favorite pre-match ritual includes a dynamic warm-up and jumping rope. When she is not training during the week she is participating in tournaments or just training on her own, Keberle said.
Due to the push for year-round athletics, Keberle has recently given up playing soccer to focus on tennis. That seems to be working out for Keberle, who is ranked number one in Wisconsin, and among the top 20 in the Midwest and top 50 in the nation.
High expectations and pressure comes along with the success Keberle has had.
“This year going into state I felt more pressure than last year because I was the state champ coming into it and everyone wanted to beat me. I had heard the girl I played in the finals was really looking forward to beating me at state, she was excited about it. I had that pressure of knowing people wanted to beat me. You must prove yourself every time you walk out on the court, anything could really happen I just have to play my best,” Keberle said.
Keberle, an only child, is the daughter of Laura Keberle and local attorney Douglas Keberle. “My dad is my main coach and works with me three times a day. My mom is really supportive of it all. At first, she said I was gone all the time and never home. Now she realizes it is what I have to do,” Keberle said.
Keberle possesses great potential to play collegiately and beyond. “I want to play college tennis for sure, at a good Division 1 school. I went to an ITA college tournament in Indiana. Any national tournament I play in, there are usually college coaches there watching. There is a website called tennisrecruiting.net where you receive stars out of five. Five meaning you can go to the better schools. I’m a five-star and coaches are looking at me. Madison has seen me play a few times and so has Xavier University and some other ones. I don’t really go to the website that often. I have to get letters out soon and contact coaches saying I’m interested in their school,” Keberle said.
Keberle also carries a 3.8 GPA, which looks good on any resume.
Becoming a professional is not an impossible goal for Keberle. “I never really sat down and talked to anyone about going pro. Everyone says I can go as far as I want to depending on how hard I keep training. It could be a possibility,” Keberle said.
But first, Keberle is aiming to stand at the top of the state podium for a third time next fall.