Lehigh named a new men’s tennis coach this summer. In July, it was announced that Craig Schwartz would replace Wouter Hendrix, the coach of 14 years.
Hendrix coached the men’s tennis team since 2012 and oversaw the women’s team from 2014 to 2017.
Schwartz comes to Lehigh from Alabama after a 2-year stint with the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.
A Long Island native, Schwartz said his hopes of coming back to the northeast were brought to life after Hendrix’s unexpected departure left a coaching spot available in Bethlehem. No stranger to the Patriot League, Schwartz spent four years at Bucknell as the men’s tennis coach from 2013 to 2016.
“I knew (Lehigh) was a great academic institution, and they were always pretty successful on the tennis court as well,” Schwartz said. “I saw some crazy battles with them. It was a great opportunity for me to come in and try to be a consistent force in the Patriot League and win Patriot League Championships.”
Schwartz said he set a goal to continue to create a good culture around the team. Although tennis is an individual sport, Schwartz is intent on building an environment where the players go out and try to win for each other.
Aside from Bucknell and Jacksonville State, Schwartz has also been at the head of the tennis programs at St. John’s University, Queen’s College and Dowling College.
Comparing his experience at Lehigh with his previous tenures, Schwartz said Lehigh’s team culture is the best he has ever come into. He said the friendships between the players have led to a close team dynamic, which Schwartz expects will grow after team bonding activities, attending other Lehigh games and team dinners at his house.
Freshman Jackson Morash said he didn’t expect the team to be as close and bonded together as they are.
“I’m learning from them on how to mature as a college player, and how to make things work and find a way to win even if I’m not having my best day,” Morash said. “They’re pushing us to be the hardest workers we can be.”
Morash said the coaching staff has been putting in effort to strengthen bonds on the team and create strong competitors.
Schwartz already has one success with Lehigh under his belt. He debuted his squad at the Villanova Invitational on Sept. 9, where several Mountain Hawks came away with wins, both in singles and doubles matches.
Senior Steven Nazaroff said he and the team have enjoyed getting to know Schwartz, and the transition in leadership has been very smooth.
“He’s a really nice guy, really ambitious,” Nazaroff said. “I like the atmosphere he brings, and he’s really competitive which I like as well. He’s really direct in how he wants us to execute things.”
Lehigh plays next against Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia on Sept. 23.