by Roger Wistar
According to coaches and captains, the boys varsity tennis team will need to bring along its new players to maximize its potential this season.
"We need to develop our younger players," said head coach David Bolmer, noting that the core of this year's singles ladder (#1 Alex Kennedy '17, #2 Andrey von Emme '18, #3 Cole Maura '19, and #4 Fin Ong '17) are all returning singles players from last season.
Unlike last year, when the team had veteran players at the bottom of the singles ladder, this year's team features new players, including Jiawen Zhao '20, Blake Cilmi '19, and Aidan Dove '20.
Co-captain Alex Kennedy '17 said that the team was doing a good job of integrating the new players. "The new players have enjoyed being on the team thus far and are grinding to improve each practice," he said.
Bolmer agreed, noting that the players at the bottom of the ladder have benefitted from playing against those at the top. "The best way for them to improve is to play against the better players, and the top ones have to have the attitude that they will go out and help them," he said.
One boost to the team this year is the addition of assistant coach Sam King, who has taken a more active role in day-to-day activities. "He's the coach and I am the general manager," joked Bolmer.
In addition to participating more in practice with the players, King has added an increased emphasis on conditioning. "It's better for us in the long run. It signals that we are more serious this year," he added.
Another new wrinkle is a collaboration between the boys and girls varsity teams this season, with some of the boys practicing from time to time against some of the top girls. Both Bolmer and girls head coach Jackson Marvel have pointed to the benefits for each team. For the boys, the co-ed play has helped teach them discipline, since girls tend to play longer rallies, forcing the boys to stay in and be focused for longer, said Bolmer.
Despite a wet, snowy March and early April, the boys were not seriously affected by the weather because of the school's William and Martha Ford Indoor Tennis Courts. "Most teams don't have the opportunity to practice in bad weather so we're usually very well prepared in the early games," said Kennedy.