All-News4JAX girls tennis: Nease’s Kylie Kochis finds her stride

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Kylie Kochis had a simple mindset.

Don’t expect anything. Play loose. Have fun.

Kochis, the All-News4JAX girls tennis player of the year, felt right at home in 2023 at Nease. After moving to the area from Pennsylvania in the middle of her freshman season in 2022, Kochis found her stride this year during a run to the individual and doubles championship matches.

The reason for Kochis’ improvement was as much about mindset as it was about backhands and aces — just relax and keep the expectations to a minimum. That mantra was borne out of last year, a wild ride that included playing her fall season in Pennsylvania and her spring season at Nease. Kochis moved to the area with her family in January 2022, made the team at Nease and then plowed through the season to reach the state tournament.

The results there were not what she expected, which helped Kochis approach things differently this season.

“Honestly, last year, I got to state and I… didn’t do very well. I think I lost like first round or something or only one doubles. So, this year had little expectations,” Kochis said. “I was like, ‘All right, just go in it all you can. There’s a lot of college kids here that already committed so I was already like the young one there. So, I was just kind of just there living it.”

This year was far different. She didn’t lose to a local opponent and marched all the way to the Class 4A individual championship match before falling to Apopka’s Alyssa Novoa, 6-2, 6-1. Kochis and teammate Blair Murray also reached the doubles final before coming up short.

It was a much different feeling than Kochis had as a freshman.

Since tennis is played indoors in Pennsylvania as a fall sport, Kochis played up there in the first part of her freshman year. Making the mid-school year move allowed Kochis the opportunity to get in another season, albeit in the heat and humidity of Florida. That part took some getting accustomed to.

But this year was different. Things truly felt like they clicked for Kochis on the court.

“Mainly I think when I moved here, I realized, ‘Like, OK, I can really improve.’ I can really do better here,” she said.

Kochis first put a racket in her hand at 3 years old, the product of tennis parents who were both standout players in their careers.

Kochis’ mother, Karin Ptaszek-Kochis, was a stellar pro tennis player during her playing career. She played in college at BYU-Hawaii, then competed for Denmark in the Fed Cup and reached a career-best No. 284 world ranking. Kochis’ father, Matt, played in college at Fordham.

It was natural to think that Kochis would compete in the sport, but she didn’t know how seriously she’d pursue it until her high school career. Now, she knows her path forward.

“I was into it very young, but I mean just recently I’ve been starting to realize, ‘Like all right, this is like what I’m going to do in college and this is like what I’m going to do going forward,’” she said. “But it’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do.”

All-News4JAX girls tennis

First team

Players, school, class, notable

Stella Hyatt, St. Johns Country Day, Sr.

Two-time first team All-News4JAX selection. Was 13-1 in doubles with partners Calli Berrang and Jane Garrison, and 12-1 in singles. Only singles loss came to fellow first-teamer Althea Tabora.

Katrina Kirov, Bolles, Jr.

Had a 9-2 mark in singles and 7-1 in doubles. Only losses were three-set clashes to first-team selections Kylie Kochis and Katie Wong. Helped lead Bulldogs to the 2A state runner-up spot.

Kylie Kochis, Nease, So.

All-News4JAX player of the year. Was 7-1 in singles and 7-2 with doubles partners Gloria Xiao and Blair Murray. Reached the doubles individual final with Murray. Class 4A singles state runner-up.

Madelyn Martin, Bartram Trail, Sr.

Excellent final season. Went 11-1 in singles and 10-2 in doubles. Lone singles loss came in tiebreak to fellow first-team selection Katrina Kirov.

Althea Tabora, Oakleaf, Sr.

Two-time All-News4JAX first-team selection. Posted back-to-back 9-0 regular seasons and reached the 3A state tournament.

Katie Wong, Stanton, So.

Had an 11-2 mark in singles at the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 spots. Went 8-1 in doubles.

Second team

Player, school, class

Lily Davis, Creekside, Sr.: Went 8-5 in singles this season, with four of those losses to players on the first team.

Lara Kohl, Bolles, So.: Solid No. 2 player went 7-3 for the area’s deepest team. Unbeaten at No. 2 doubles (8-0) in regular season.

Tamara Linde, Sandalwood, Sr.: Went 8-0 in singles and 7-1 in doubles for the Saints.

Kyla Proctor, Jackson, Jr.: Second-team selection last year, too. Only loss came at region to Stanton’s Katie Wong. Was 10-1 in singles.

Isabella Toby, Ponte Vedra, Sr.: Went 9-8 in singles. Only local losses were to four first-team selections. Went 12-5 in doubles.

Adriah Tongkhuya, Tocoi Creek, Fr.: Superb season. She went 13-2 at No. 1 singles and 12-1 at doubles for the Toros.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.