This year’s boys tennis team is in for a remodelling as new Head Coach Christian Herzog sets up to take the reigns. Last year’s team was coached by Sarah Hibbert, who currently is out on maternity leave. Herzog is not new to coaching tennis, as he was the assistant coach under Hibbert for six years, in both the spring and fall seasons. Herzog hopes to stick to the plans set forward by Hibbert but wants to add in his own style of coaching.
“[This year] is going to be a similar [coaching] program [as last year],” said Herzog. “I’m going to be a bit more authoritative [and] a little [less] easy going.”
Herzog thinks that this change in coaching will not rattle the new team’s focus and he has emphasized to the boys the importance in continuing to give their all to the team.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a difficult transition … I still have the same high expectations just like [Hibbert did]. It doesn’t matter if it’s me coaching or her,” said Herzog.
“I don’t think there’s going to be much of a transition; everyone kind of knows Herzog … So we’re all familiar with him, we all like him, and we’re all excited,” said Co-Captain Zachary Hojeibane ’14.
The goals set forward for the team have not changed, with both Hibbert and Herzog having coached the girls team, which went 16–1 and won its sectional championships.
“We expect kids to work hard, we don’t want any laziness, we don’t want any excuses … We have high but achievable expectations,” said Herzog.
“I think that for sure there’s a different feel that [Herzog] brings to the court, but I think that in the end it’s going to end up the same. We really like to work together and work off each other’s style, and so I think our end product is going to be similar [to last year],” said Co-Captain Zack Kleiman ’14.
The team has many experienced players, including Kleiman, Hojeibane, Tyler Hack ’15, Rishab Tanga ’15, and Adib Zaidi ’15, who are all returning from last year’s team. Many of the team’s players practice at tennis clubs during the offseason, and participate in local tournaments. Due to this extra practice, the team can hit the ground running.
“I think we definitely can do well, we have a solid team, and it’s just as solid … as last year’s [team]” said Hojeibane.
The team lost Brock DeHaven ’14 and Michael Feeney ’13 in their singles lineup, and Eddie Zhang ‘13 in their double’s lineup last year, but will be able to return many of the varsity players. This year’s varsity lineup will have a lot of experience due to the competition that comes with tryouts and the returning amount of upperclassmen.
“Our talent pool, varsity-wise, is very close together,” said Coach Herzog. “[The team] is a lot closer together [skill-wise], which I would argue is actually better because you don’t have a significant dropoff.”
Herzog is sure that these returning pairs who did well last year keep a steady focus on this year’s season. Hoping to be strict with the boys, Herzog also wants to bond with the team. Having coached multiple sports over the years, he hopes that he can help the boys achieve their best.
“I’m not new to coaching boys. I have coached more physical sports [in the past] … I enjoy working with the guys because it’s a different type of relationship, as opposed to the girls,” said Herzog.
Zaidi, coming back from an injury that excluded him for last year’s team, looks forward to coming back to the team.
“I feel confident because I’ve been playing for the past year … I’m going to give it my all … I’m feeling good and my elbows have healed [after physical therapy],” said Zaidi.
This year’s varsity team is made up of players who have played for the team in the past, with a majority of juniors and two seniors. Herzog is willing to create a strategy that will best fit the new members of the team, such as the incoming freshmen and sophomores.
“Basically we are going to create a plan that will make us most successful to go as far as we can, and beat as many teams as we can,” said Coach Herzog.
“We want to try to do well in every one of our matches; they’re all important—of course, MCTs are important and states are important, so those are our three main things … How far we [will] get, I don’t know, but it depends on how we play,” said Hojeibane.
“I’m expecting at least the varsity guys to come back with a vengeance,” said Herzog. “Particularly the seniors [who will] realize that we don’t have any more time, this is our time, and take that and move with it.”