Laura Strenk has made her mark in three different sports during her time at Regina Dominican High School.
Considering her upbringing, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Strenk is the youngest of eight children, and her parents would often bring Laura to her siblings’ games and practices. She soon developed a love for sports — and a penchant for competition.
“My brother Danny and I would compete all the time for everything, even if it wasn’t sports, if it was just food or getting into the house first,” Strenk said. “I had a very competitive childhood.”
Strenk’s ambition has led to another all-star season on the tennis court this fall. The top singles player for the Panthers, Strenk went undefeated in conference play and won the Class 1A Vernon Hills Sectional singles title on Saturday, Oct. 16.
If there were an IHSA state meet this season, Strenk likely would have made a deep run in the singles bracket. Regina coach Calvin Lloyd said Strenk has “destroyed” her opponents this year.
“Laura’s been my number one singles player for the past three years,” Lloyd said. “She’s going to be a hard act to follow. … She goes out a champion. She won the (Girls Catholic Athletics Conference) the last two years and has just been phenomenal.”
From one court to another, Strenk’s favorite sport is actually basketball, as she helped the Panthers win a regional title her sophomore year and was named to the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-State Second Team as a junior. She also is an All-Conference midfielder for the Panthers soccer team.
Tennis is the sport that Strenk didn’t pick up until her freshman year at Regina. She chose tennis over volleyball and appreciates the individuality the game offers.
“I don’t really have a sport that’s just by myself and me just working alone, so it’s kind of a cool aspect,” Strenk said. “Just focusing on myself rather than focusing on me and the team. It’s definitely a different aspect, I think that’s pretty cool that I can just focus on myself for a sport.”
The rest of the GCAC has been focusing on Strenk as well.
Lloyd says Strenk went 12-4 on the year, her only losses coming to tough nonconference opponents.
At the sectional, Strenk won her first two matches in straight sets before defeating Carmel’s Sofia Coury in three sets. Strenk finished fourth and runnerup respectively the previous two years before winning the sectional this season.
Strenk is of course an athletic player, but Lloyd says that’s not all that makes the three-sport athlete shine.
“She just has a lot of heart and determination,” Lloyd said. “When you’re athletic and you got heart and determination, it’s a coaches’ dream. She’s an intelligent player on the tennis court. It can go either way, she can play hard, slow, fast, she outthinks you. She’s a tremendous athlete, she’s going to be missed.”
With the tennis season now over, Strenk will turn her focus to the hardwood. She’ll have the option to be Regina’s first four-sport athlete this year due to the IHSA’s adjusted spring sports season, but Strenk will likely spend that time with her travel basketball team.
With just two seasons left at Regina, Strenk is enjoying every moment representing the Panthers. Her mom, Nancy, and her sisters all played sports at Regina, and Laura gets to carry on the family tradition for a little longer.
“It means a lot,” Strenk said. “I obviously really love this school. It’s just really cool and I’m just glad that Regina is such a great environment and gives such great opportunities for student-athletes like me. My family picked the right school.”
Nick Frazier is a freelance writer primarily covering high school sports. He most recently was the sports editor of The Highland Park Landmark and The Lake Forest Leader. You can follow Nick on Twitter at @nikfraz14