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Boys Tennis: Sandburg’s Jonluke Passett a second-generation player

Jonluke Passett (left) his father Douglas pose after Jonluke’s second-place finish SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue Tournament. | Jeff Vorva/For Sun-Times

Jonluke Passett (left) and his father, Douglas, pose after Jonluke’s second-place finish in the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue Tournament. | Jeff Vorva/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 23, 2014 1:08PM



It’s easy to see why Sandburg sophomore Jonluke Passett has been so successful in tennis.

It’s in the genes.

Passett’s father, Douglas, said more than 25 years ago he played professional tennis, was ranked around 200th in the world and faced legends such as Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl.

“They never had an off day when I played them,’’ Douglas Passett said. “There was a big difference between being in the top 10 and No. 200.’’

The elder Passett also said he coached high school tennis in Kansas and college tennis in North Carolina, Texas and Hawaii before settling in Orland Park.

So it’s no surprise the younger Passett started playing the sport at age 5 and playing United States Tennis Association tournaments at age 10.

“My dad traveled all over the world,” Jonluke Passet said. “He knows what he’s talking about. I actually started out playing soccer when I was little, but I quickly transferred to tennis and I love the sport.”

With Eric Pontow, a four-time state qualifier who played 25 matches in the state tournament in his four years at Sandburg, graduated, Eagles coach Brian Ostrander was hoping to find another player of Pontow’s caliber. Passett might not be in Pontow’s league yet, but he’s made an impressive first impression, qualifying for state last year.

However, he lost his first match and defaulted in his second match at state while his friend, Stagg star Brendan Wolan, played five matches and reached the fourth round of consolation play. Passett had beaten Wolan in three sets in sectional play in 2013.

The two stellar sophomores hooked up again Saturday in the semifinals of the SouthWest Suburban Blue meet, with Passett winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. He then fell to Joliet co-op’s Tom Carney in the championship.

Ostrander said the official seedings will come out later this week for the upcoming Sandburg Sectional but figures Passett and Wolan will be the top two seeds.

Passett hopes another faceoff with Wolan to decide the sectional championship is in the cards.

“We used to be practice partners,” Passett said. “We played against each other five times over the years and think I’ve lost to him once, but they have always been good close matches. It’s been fun. I want a shot to play him again.”

Douglas Passett said he attended Niles West High School and didn’t play tennis with the school team because elite players tended to bypass their high school seasons to concentrate on United States Tennis Association play. He said he and Jonluke talked about the younger Passett taking a similar path, but decided that a team environment would be a good thing.

“High school shows a college coach that you understand the concept that you are a part of a team,” he said. “Face it, tennis is not really a team sport. Tennis is a narcissistic, egocentric sport and that’s not a good thing but it’s the nature of the beast.

“Jonluke really loves the social aspect of it, and so 12 weeks out of the year he plays this and the other 40 he is in the USTA.”



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