School News

Boys Tennis - No Longer ‘Under the Radar’ Entering 2010

As printed in the Fairfield Ledger, April 7, 2010 By Carson Tigges, Ledger Sports Editor

Pioneers to face tough test Saturday in Cedar Rapids. Spirits are high at Maharishi School to begin the 2010 tennis season. And why shouldn’t they be?

Every single member of last year’s squad that found its way all the way to the Class 1A state title match returns for head coach Lawrence Eyre, and this season, they may be looking for more from the championship match slated for the first day in June.

“I brought the guys in a circle on the first day of practice and told them we were going to make another circle on the last day of the season – let’s hope it’s June 1,” Eyre said.
The roster suggests a lineup loaded with experience, which is the reality, but the squad is still relatively young with just two seniors – Jay Stewart and Joseph Gelfand – on the slate.

“I’ve never had an entire squad return intact,” said Eyre, who started the MSAE tennis program in 1988. “But we’re still young – there’s only two seniors – so there’s a lot of upside to this team even though they already have some experience.”

The youth begins with No. 1 singles player Thomas Weiss, who played his way to the state singles tournament as a freshman in 2009. Now in his sophomore season, Weiss returns to the No. 1 slot for the Pioneers, and much like the rest of the squad, isn’t going to be sneaking up on anybody.

Weiss was one of four newcomers to the lineup a season ago, but with the success they found – and the fact every member of the team can claim a part of that success – MSAE has become a known quantity to teams around the area and around the state.

“We’re definitely not going to be flying under anybody’s radar this year,” Eyre said. “I’ve already run into coaches and players this spring that know what day they’re playing us and have it circled on their calendar. I’ve let the boys know there’s nowhere to hide – accept the accolades that come with your success, but get ready for the next wave because people are going to be much more intense playing against us.”

Ready to take on the new batch of opponents that figure to be extra hungry is the rest of the lineup that includes senior Joseph Gelfand and juniors Derek Thatcher and Sam Arsanjani. Gelfand and Thatcher ended up fourth in last year’s state doubles tournament, but a solidified lineup has yet to be set in the early season. In Tuesday’s season-opener – a 9-0 Pioneer victory over West Burlington-Notre Dame – Thatcher paired up with Arsanjani for a victory at No. 1 doubles.


A big reason for the shake up in the order can be attributed to the emergence of freshman Raphael Gelfand, who played No. 5 singles Tuesday. Jay Stewart completed the lineup at No. 6 while Brenton Schwartz – a full-time varsity player from 2009 – and junior Atreya Dey continue the fierce practice battle for one of the six spots.

That 2010 lineup hopes to make a return trip to the final four, which, in actuality, is just a continuation of the rich tradition that Eyre has built at MSAE.

“Guys have played with some of our former state champions, and these guys realize they are part of that same chain,” he said. “There’s a line of good tennis that began back in the 80s that they would like to see continue. It’s inspiring to the young guys and enriching to feel like you’re part of something like that.”

To put it into numbers, the Pioneers have found themselves in the final four 12 times in the past 22 years including the last five straight – all coming from the smallest school in the state with a tennis program.

MSAE will now make its way through what figures to be another highly successful season that has already seen them hit the ground running.

“I didn’t have to persuade on anybody the value of coming into the season fit. I didn’t have to persuade on anybody the value of hitting a lot of tennis balls after basketball season ended. These guys just did it,” said Eyre. “These guys love to play tennis, and I don’t have to light any fires.”

With the fire already lit, MSAE will enter Saturday’s Cedar Rapids Washington Invitational that features four Class 2A schools. But no matter what happens this weekend, the target figures to stay securely on the Pioneers’ back.

 

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