The boys’ tennis team has had an up-and-down beginning to their 2015-2016 campaign.
The team lost many senior players, and new freshman along with former sophomores and juniors who played last year now must step up to fill the roles. Among these players were Tulane University recruit Jacob Adler ’15 and Stanford University commit Michael Genender.
This year, the team has 11 returning varsity players, but only five of these varsity players were starters.
Jed Kronenberg ’17, a recently appointed captain, said he feels he is ready to take on this new leadership role on the team even though he may not be a senior
“It feels great to be recognized as captain,” Kronenberg said. “I’ve worked really hard to improve my game and be a leader on the team. After two CIF finals, I’m excited to lead our team to more success this year.”
Many varsity players who may have had slightly smaller roles on the varsity team last year now have had to step into unfamiliar territory as starters in both doubles and singles games.
“We have a few guys who have been on the team the last few years but did not get that much experience in important matches who are playing more important roles this year,” Kronenberg said. “Those guys know what it takes to advance in CIF and so far they have stepped up and performed well. We also have a freshman Kenneth Lee ’19 who has been really solid in doubles this year and continues to improve.”
Although the team holds a 178-game Mission League winstreak, with their last loss coming from before 2000, the squad struggles to gain an audience for their matches.
The combination of distance from the school and length of the matches often seems to lower the amount of people who would normally attend tennis matches.
“It would be awesome if we could get some more fanatics at matches instead of just some parents rooting us on,” Kronenberg said. “At away matches against other top teams in California there are usually fans rooting against us, and having fanatics to support us at our home matches would be really helpful. It’s only a five-minute drive away!”
The inability to lean on huge playmakers like Genender has forced the team to come closer together as a unit and adapt their play style to a variety of new situations.
“Being unable to rely on two top nationally ranked seniors has made us have to come together as a team much more and be a bit more strategic about how we play a match,” Jacob Tucker ’17 said. “Playing our top guys in the three singles spots isn’t always the best thing for our team, and we’ve had to be much more flexible about how we line up depending on who we’re facing. It’s definitely a different dynamic.”
Tucker also believes his role has increased since his sophomore and freshman years.
“Playing as a junior has been different from previous years,” Tucker said. “I’m now one of the stronger players on the team, and a lot more weight has been put on me and my fellow junior and senior’s shoulders.”
Other varsity players are dealing with the struggles of adapting to a newer and larger role on the team, such as doubles and singles player Keon Niknejad ’17, who was not a varsity player the past season. With the new added pressure, Niknejad has tried to support his team in any way possible.