Senior Ben Gilman is ready to receive the ball during a rally at the teams practice on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 at the Ulrich Tennis Courts. The team has been putting in countless hours of hard work to prepare for their upcoming tournament.(Gracie Chavers/B&W staff)

Senior tennis captain Ben Gilman guides his team


Senior Ben Gilman is not only described as a natural talent when it comes to tennis, but he also belongs on the short list of best male tennis players ever at Lehigh, according to his coach, Wouter Hendrix.

Gilman began playing tennis at just eight years old. Although he played a number of sports growing up, he began focusing on tennis when he reached Horace Greeley High School. There, he finished third in the 2011 New York State Public High School Athletics Association Boys Tennis Championships. By the end of his high school career, former men’s tennis coach Dave Shook and Hendrix, who was an assistant at the time, recruited Gilman to play at Lehigh.

“I really liked Lehigh,” Gilman said. “And I really liked all the guys on the team. I felt like the school was a perfect balance of tennis and academics.”

Although Gilman has helped the men’s tennis team with its seven wins this season from his current 3-8 records in singles competition and 5-4 in doubles, he is more than an avid tennis player, but also a notable team captain and leader according to his teammates.

By the end of his freshman year at Lehigh, Gilman was recognized as an essential player for the men’s tennis team. He was named First Team All-Patriot League, was a winner of the team’s Outstanding Athlete Award and even led in singles and doubles wins.

Now, Gilman’s success and leadership from previous seasons has earned him a captain position.

“Ben is a fantastic captain and teammate,” junior Ricardo Prince said. “Ever since I joined the team two years ago, Gilman has been one of the top leaders on the squad, along with senior Mitchell Peterson. The captains have done a phenomenal job building up the team chemistry and preparing us for the Patriot League play.”

Gilman said he and the team are excited to start playing against teams in their conference. The team has its first Patriot League match against Navy on March 28, followed by Loyola University (Maryland) on March 29. Four more Patriot League matches will be played before the Patriot League Tournament on April 16.

In terms of this season, Gilman said that this year has been going well for the team.

“Everyone seems to be playing well,” he said. “I haven’t been playing my best lately but will hopefully start to play a little better as we enter the most important part of the season.”

Gilman said that the team is looking strong and has two very good freshmen, Jack Petersen and Dylan Karchere-Sun.

“Everyone has been working hard,” Gilman said. “Everyone has been doing all of the right things on and off the court. Being a captain has been a great learning experience and has been really enjoyable.”

Junior Jeremy Kochman also agrees that Gilman’s team leadership has contributed not only to a winning season this year, but in previous years as well.

“Ben is an amazing teammate,” Kochman said. “He cares so much about the team’s success. I’ve had the pleasure of being his doubles partner for the past two years and he has taught me not only tennis skills but also the behind-the-scene things that it takes to succeed at a high level. He has really put Lehigh tennis on the map and led us to our first NCAA tournament appearance in school history.”

In its 2013 season, the men’s tennis team matched up against No. 6 University of Mississippi in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever. Although the Mountain Hawks fell 4-0 to Mississippi, making it to the NCAA’s would always be part of Lehigh’s school history, Kochman said.

Gilman was a sophomore when the team participated in the NCAA tournament and although he and his doubles partner, Andrew Krentz, ’13, lost to Mississippi, the game ended with a close match of 8-4. At this time, Gilman was also voted Patriot League Male Tennis Player of the Month in April.

For the final season of his Lehigh tennis career, Gilman has one goal in mind, and that is to help the team win a Patriot League Championship. Gilman said he hopes to still continue playing tennis after he graduates and begins working.

“I don’t think I’ll have too much time to play tennis when I start work,” Gilman said. “But I can definitely see myself playing a little bit when I get older.”

From leading on and off the court, Gilman has contributed significantly to the men’s tennis program, according to the team’s younger players.

“I have learned a lot from Ben,” Prince said. “He will be truly missed next year.”

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