As if she wasn’t good enough already, Neuqua Valley golfer Jessica Yuen has gotten better after her breakout freshman campaign.
After finishing tied for second at the Class AA state meet last fall, one stroke behind champion Stephanie Miller of Stevenson and tied with Buffalo Grove’s Grace Kil — both seniors — Yuen had a huge summer as she rolls into her sophomore campaign for the Wildcats.
“She had a really strong summer,” Neuqua coach John Keller said. “Her length has increased. It’s hard to imagine but she is really playing better.”
Yuen won the Chick Evans Junior Amateur Championship at Itasca Country Club in July. She also placed third at the AJGA Midwest Juniors Players Championship at Mistwood in Romeoville, finished seventh in the 15-18 age division of the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego and took 20th at the Illinois Women’s Open, also at Mistwood, this summer.
One of the keys to her continued improvement is work in the weight room and on her craft, but the few inches she grew didn’t hurt either.
“The summer went really well, so I’m happy,” Yuen said. “I just always want to drive the ball harder every year. I got taller this year; that’s a big factor, too. I’ve been working out. After the golf season, I work out even more.”
Keller was stunned when he saw what Yuen was able to do at tryouts last week.
“I’m impressed,” Keller said. “She seems to have a little bit of a draw off the tee. In tryouts, I don’t remember a girl being up this far (in the fairway), not just our girls. Her length is better than it was before, not that it was bad before.
“She just looks a little stronger, maybe a little bigger. Last year, she was tiny. I think she’s grown a little bit and I’m sure that will help.”
Sometimes dealing with a superstar can be problematic for a high school coach, but Keller said that is not the case with Yuen.
“She’s fantastic,” Keller said. “Absolutely no ego. She is not a diva. There are absolutely no problems with her at all.”
After her first go-around through the state series last fall, Yuen said she is ready to make another run at a state title.
“I want to win more tournaments, shoot lower scores than last year, maybe win state, I don’t know,” Yuen said. “I just think that it doesn’t matter what people shoot as long as I play my game and not think about the opponent.
“That’s what I’m trying to do this year. I’m trying to match what I did freshman year.”