Scott Gerber photographed the action photos and most, but not all, of the state qualifier group photos. Interview


OTZ Interview with St. Charles' Jack Dabek

The third OTZ senior interview of the tennis season is with St. Charles' Jack Dabek. Dabek and his freshman partner, Reese Yakubov, are the #1 Central District Division I doubles seeds.

Dabek will be going to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland upon graduation where he plans to major in chemistry. Why the Naval Academy? "I found the aspect of service to my country to be the most appealing, in addition to the strong academics and sense of family there. I also considered Ohio State University." He added, "I'm planning on majoring in chemistry. I like it because I can easily relate the concepts to real-world applications." Dabek would like to serve on a naval ship and his initial interest is in surface warfare.

Jack Dabek
St. Charles' Jack Dabek - Click to enlarge

Dabek began playing at six years old when his entire family would book a tennis lesson to play together. His father, Dariusz, works in IT at Palmer-Donavin, which is a wholesale distributor of residential building materials. His mother, Angelica, works out of the home. His brother, Alex [photo from 2014], also played tennis at St. Charles and he is now majoring in bio-medical engineering at Case Western Reserve. His dog, Gracie, seems somewhat nice but she was not at all cooperative for this OTZ photo.

Dabek has been a solid, 3-Star, bordering on a 4-Star during his last two years in junior tennis. Players often do not show significant improvement over the years, but that is not the case with Dabek. He had a national ranking of 348 in 2015, jumped to 262 in 2016, and his best 2018 ranking is 210. He has a UTR of 11.18. His strong improvement is likely in part by working with Ohio State's Coach Ty Tucker for the last three years. (His doubles partner, Reese Yakubov, also works with Coach Tucker.) "High intensity" would be a great way to describe Coach Tucker. Prior to Jack leaving last year for Kalamazoo, Coach Tucker imparted this piece of wisdom, "Every shot is a war".

St. Charles Prep might be equally intense. Dabek averaged 3-4 hours a night in homework, and while everyone else OTZ has interviewed has some form of social media vice, that was not the case with Dabek. "I didn't really get into it to start, but not having it through my years at St. Charles probably helped my grades." Dabek took four AP courses at St. Charles and his favorite was chemistry. Dabek also took a college course at Ohio State. Dabek added, "I am the prospective D1 college athlete at St. Charles who got an A in Latin..." (For extreme data and education enthusiasts, OTZ's other web site,, once tracked Ohio Graduation Test performance for all schools (public and private) and identified Ohio's top performing high schools. St. Charles dominated the state.*)

Why does he play high school tennis? "I like the team aspect, as well as the opportunity to help teammates with their game development by running practices as captain. Also, I think it's nice to play in front of a crowd."

When asked about his favorite shot, Dabek replied, "Volleys, because it does not take much to hit a shot that will open up the court or end the point. For a weapon, I like being a presence at the net, especially in doubles. I try to get a racquet on as many balls as possible when my partner is back." Dabek can also pound a solid serve that is in the 115-120mph range.

Jack Dabek
Jack Dabek @Kalamazoo '17 - Click to enlarge
Last year, Dabek played in the Midwest Closed and doubles (with Wellington's Connor Biernat) at Kalamazoo (the site of the USTA National Championships) but he leaves for the Naval Academy on June 28 so that will prevent him from playing in these tournaments this year.

In the mandatory OhioTennisZone usage question, he responded, "OTZ is good for looking up scores, especially from matches that are not in my area. I like to see how my friends in Cincinnati are doing in their season."

Dabek's goal for this tennis season is, "To be at the top of my game in preparation for my collegiate tennis career next fall." He believes that he will be able to contribute in doubles at Navy in his first year. Unlike many college teams, the Naval Academy has a large roster of 15 players. (Navy's #1 has a 12.69 UTR and their #6 has an 11.91 rating.) While men's D1 college tennis is also being overwhelmed with non-U.S. players, that is also not the case at Navy. All of the players on the roster are from the United States. (In Ohio State's NCAA match yesterday (May 20, 2018) against Mississippi State, six out of eight (75%) were foreign players.)

Dabek combined his love with tennis with his interest in teaching others. "I have been a part of Buddy Up Tennis for four years, where I teach tennis to children with Down Syndrome. I've always enjoyed tennis, and I love the opportunity to share the sport of tennis with others." (Click for more information on Buddy Up Tennis.)

Dabek's coach, Max Quinton, added, "Jack is an outstanding player and has worked hard to improve his game. Since last year, his doubles game improvement has propelled him to another level of play as seen in his district performance." Can he and Yakubov continue their District success at States? Stay tuned to OTZ to follow his results.

* Full disclosure: OTZ son, Kyle, graduated from St. Charles in 2009. The education analysis was initially released during Kyle's junior year.