Lehigh men's tennis graduate student Matt Kleiman practices at Ulrich Varsity Tennis Courts. Kleiman has played four tennis seasons and his singles overall record is 29-21. (Courtesy of Matt Kleiman)

Lehigh men’s tennis captain reflects on career


In the quaint surroundings of a local park, where the thud of tennis balls meets the crisp morning air, Lehigh men’s tennis graduate student Matt Kleiman’s journey into the world of tennis began. 

“I grew up right in front of a tennis court at a local park,” the Rockville, Maryland, native said. “My parents always loved to play, and eventually, I would just join them when I got old enough. Then I just fell in love with the sport.”

From the early days playing with his parents, Kleiman’s enjoyment of tennis turned into a fervent passion. He found solace and challenge on the court, relishing the opportunity to act independently. 

“I love the fact that you’re out there by yourself,” Kleiman said. “You have to problem-solve on your own, and since then, I’ve just always loved it.” 

As Kleiman’s tennis career progressed, he set his sights on playing at the collegiate level.

Since Kleiman arrived at Lehigh, coach Craig Schwartz noted his unwavering work ethic, which has helped him balance the rigorous demands of athletics and academics.

“He’s one of the guys that, obviously on the court, he has a lot of success, but the biggest thing about him is off the court,” Schwartz said.

Kleiman recorded a winning record in Patriot League play every season besides his first year, when the season was cut short due to COVID-19.

Kleiman posted a 14-4 Patriot League singles record from 2021 to 2023 and an 11-2 doubles record in the conference. In his senior season, he earned a first-team All-Patriot League selection. 

Now a graduate student, Kleiman has continued to rack up strong performances with a 6-3 Patriot League singles record and a 5-2 Patriot League doubles record with his partner, junior Marc Blekhman.

Because of this, Kleiman has earned the spot on Lehigh’s No. 1 court as the team’s top player.

“Playing No. 1 is obviously awesome and a really cool experience,” Kleiman said. “But off the court is what I think separates people.”

Aside from contributing to his on-the-court success, Kleiman’s teammates said his leadership as a captain has also been beneficial to the team.

“He is one of our captains. He was a captain last year, as well as Matt Kleiman and Jordan Paul,” sophomore Jackson Morash said. “(The captains) like to lead practices when coach isn’t here.”

With Kleiman at the helm, the team navigates challenges with confidence, knowing that his leadership will steer them toward victory. His dedication to keeping the team on track and his knack for offering advice during huddles underscore his unwavering commitment to their collective goals. 

As Kleiman’s collegiate journey draws to a close, his gaze shifts toward the realm of possibility. With dreams of pursuing professional tennis, Kleiman is steadfast in his further pursuits. Still, he remains grateful that he made it this far in his career.

“Just taking a step back and looking at it like I was a little kid,” Kleiman said. “How grateful I’d be to be in this position is really what keeps me going.”

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