By Anthony Schlass, Current Staff
East junior Lexi Keberle has verbally committed to play tennis at the University of Wisconsin.
After winning two state titles in her first two years of high school with a record of 61-0, Keberle committed to Wisconsin on Aug. 15. The verbal commitment is a promise between both Keberle and the university that a formal signing will occur during her senior year.
Keberle is a five-star recruit, according to the Tennis Recruiting Network.
When asked what kind of school she was looking to attend, Keberle said she wanted a Big Ten school. “I looked at Indiana, Purdue, and I was going to go see Michigan State,” she said.
Notre Dame and Marquette were both on Keberle’s list, too, but she finally picked Wisconsin.
“Location was the main factor. Knowing I could play for my home state is something that really convinced me to go there. Not a lot of tennis players have been able to play for Wisconsin,” Keberle said.
During the recruiting process, exposure is the biggest aspect. Athletes need to put themselves out there for college coaches to get their eyes on them. Keberle put those words into action.
“I went to camp there [University of Wisconsin] over the summer and that is when I met the coach and I really like her,” Keberle said. “One of my USTA coaches is really good friends with her so he always had a good word to say about me to her.”
Tina Samara is the head coach and is in her third season at Wisconsin. “And now they just got a new assistant coach that used to coach at Florida State and he is really cool and he has had really good junior players,” Keberle said.
The University of Wisconsin has excellent athletic facilities, which also appealed to Keberle. “Nielsen Tennis Center is the coolest indoor tennis center out of all of the Big Ten schools. It is a pretty big complex,” Keberle said.
Keberle won two state titles with her high school team, West Bend East, but has recently decided not to play with her high school team in order to focus on club competition. She trains locally at Pleasant Valley Tennis and Fitness Club in Jackson with her coach John Gambucci, but also travels for additional training.
Leaving her high school team wasn’t easy. “It was really difficult because the majority of the team are all of my really good friends, but at the same time it was almost helpful because they understood where I was coming from. They understood I have new goals and I need to still be training pretty hard. High school tennis kind of interferes with that,” Keberle said.
“She always wanted to play for her home state. She could’ve gone farther but there’s nothing like playing for your home state. I’m really proud of her,” said Meredith Vande Zande, one of Keberle’s high school teammates.
“I know she’ll do great things at Madison,” said Ally Bensen, another teammate at East High.
Although Keberle is not training with her high school team, she finds ways to still get her work in. “I go down to Brookfield and I train there on court. I try to get three hours on court and one hour off court training,” Keberle said.
Keberle continues to excel at a high level with different types of competition. “I’ve played in tournaments out of state. I played one in San Diego,” Keberle said.
Keberle is a very talented player and it’s still early in her career. Wisconsin sports fans have to wait two more years before being able to witness Lexi play for the Badgers.
(Photographs courtesy of Anna Johnson, East junior.)