After posting one of the most successful seasons in Lehigh history last year, the men’s tennis team looks to build upon their momentum and become the top team in the Patriot League.
The team finished with an overall record of 13-7 and a league record of 7-1 in spring 2022.
Sophomore Marc Blekhman, Lehigh’s first tennis player to be named Patriot League Rookie of the Year, only had one loss all season in singles play against conference opponents.
Blekhman said he has learned experience comes from practice, and he looks to continue to improve his play.
“It was awesome to make history for the school, but it is also something to remember when I am on the court and that I deserve to be here,” Blekhman said. “As a sophomore, I can be a better teammate by trying to become a mentor for the first-years while also learning from the older players.”
Playing six matches in less than two weeks, the Mountain Hawks sit at a 3-3 record. After they defeated Marist, Mount Saint Mary’s and Howard and lost to St. John’s, Fairleigh Dickinson and Drexel.
Senior Jeremy Learner said the team knows what it takes to produce results and they are working hard to achieve them in these matches.
“The whole point of the next week or two is to get us back into match shape and get us into the shape necessary to compete at the highest level,” Learner said.
Despite tennis being viewed as an individual sport, Blekhman said he believes it is when the team comes together that they are able to achieve exceptional results.
He said he and his teammates emphasize the importance of creating an inclusive team environment.
“Growing up and playing junior-level tennis, I was mainly playing for myself, but now as a sophomore, I am used to playing for something bigger than myself and having a bigger responsibility,” Blekhman said.
Learner said the team’s camaraderie is evident between players’ support for one another on and off the court. The upperclassmen help the younger players transition from high school level tennis to playing at the college level.
Learner said the upperclassmen play a role in helping the first-years understand that college tennis is much more team-oriented compared to high school play.
First-year Jackson Morash, who won his first match as a Mountain Hawk on Feb. 8, said he has benefitted from support from the upperclassmen leadership.
“We are a very tight-knit group, so there’s not really any difference between me and the upperclassmen other than that they have more experience,” Morash said. “They try to help coach me in whatever way they can, give me advice on how to play, how to deal with nerves and what to do in certain situations.”
After spending a few months with older, more experienced players, Learner said the first-years have realized what it takes to win.
Blekhman said he believes the team will be tough to beat in the Patriot League because he recognizes the talent of his teammates.
The Mountain Hawks will look to start a new win-streak at home against Hofstra on Feb. 17.