In just one season playing together as a doubles pair, Prairie Ridge seniors Jared Arkell and Max Kueller had little trouble connecting on the court. The duo’s long list of accolades includes: FVC doubles champions, sectional champions and state qualifiers.
And now the pair can add 2019 Northwest Herald Boys Tennis Players of the Year to the list.
They went 3-2 at the Class 1A state tournament and reached the round of 16 before dropping into the consolation bracket. They had lost just two regular season matches prior to the IHSA state tournament.
Arkell will attend Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and plans to study business and cinema. Kueller will play tennis at McHenry County College and plans to study computer science.
Arkell and Kueller recently spoke to the Northwest Herald about finding chemistry on the court, favorite classes and more.
What was your favorite moment from this season?
Arkell: Beating Jacobs [doubles pair Kevin Burton and John Kaiser] in the conference championship. We were just playing our best that day and we were having so much fun.
Kueller: When we played Warren the first time, we almost lost but we ended up beating them at the Libertyville tournament. We came so close to losing but we stuck it out.
How tough is it to develop chemistry with a new doubles partner?
Arkell: It didn’t take us long because Max is so great at the back and hitting ground strokes. We complement each other so well. It just works because I let him take the back shots and I put the balls away that are near the net.
Kueller: Usually if two people don’t get along, they will not work as a doubles team. If you’ve never played with someone before, you’ll know pretty quickly if you guys are going to work out together. It just depends how well you two get along. We got along pretty well.
How did you start playing tennis?
Arkell: I played baseball my freshmen and sophomore years and football my freshman year. With baseball, I wasn’t playing every day. I really wanted to succeed in a sport, so I tried tennis out. With all of the sports I’ve played, tennis came easily to me, and quickly. I started my junior year. My mom and grandma got me into it. I’m happy I ended up trying it.
Kueller: I started playing when I was 9. Before tennis I had played soccer. I just didn’t get much enjoyment out of it. Finally in fourth grade [my parents] let me quit. My mom was like, ‘You’re doing a sport. You’re going to try tennis.’ I was like, ‘I’m not doing it.’ So we went to a summer camp and after the camp I ended up really liking it.
Who are your favorite pro players?
Arkell: Roger Federer. His net game is outstanding. I love how he incorporates the net into his singles play. He’s not just like a normal singles guy hitting ground strokes.
Kueller: Rafael Nadal. I’m lefty and I’ve always loved Nadal. I wrote a paper on him in seventh grade.
Who is your funniest teammate?
Arkell: Jakub Rugala. He has this really weird sense of humor and I find it funny.
Kueller: J-Rob [Jonathan Robinson]. He’s a good person to pick fun at. We don’t do it seriously.
Who is your biggest hero?
Arkell: Because I’m very religious and I’m a Christian, I would say God is my biggest hero. I do everything for Him and I can do all things through Him.
Kueller: Rafael Nadal. When I started playing tennis I really looked up to him. Realizing that he won his first pro tournament when he was 15 made me want to try harder.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Arkell: I play the piano and I sing. I’m in the a capella choir.
Kueller: I’m really good with computers, coding. I also like public speaking.
What’s your favorite class in school?
Arkell: Environmental science. It’s fun to learn about the environment. Our teacher is one of the tennis coaches, Mr. [Matthew] Senese.
Kueller: AP German. I love German, my family is German.
What’s your perfect meal?
Arkell: Wisconsin cheese curds from Culver’s and a double butter burger.
Kueller: Home-made pancakes with some home-made syrup.
What are three of your favorite movies?
Arkell: ‘The Sandlot,’ ‘Black Panther,’ and ‘The Great Gatsby.’
Kueller: ‘Star Wars: Episode V,’ ‘Titanic,’ and ‘Pirate Radio.’
What’s your dream job?
Arkell: Doing something with movies. Acting or being in Hollywood.
Kueller: Somewhere in Germany working in computer science.