One Year Makes A Huge Difference for Men’s Tennis

Sebastian Lena

When you think of a rollercoaster, a bunch of kids screaming their heads off, going through hard turns left and right and up and down is probably the first thing that comes to mind. A tennis season is usually the furthest thing from your mind.

Beacons tennis coach Eric Berg would have to disagree with you on that.

When asked to describe the 2008 men’s tennis season up to this point in one word, “rollercoaster” was the perfect word for him. “There are always lots of highs and lows during a season,” Berg says.

You wouldn’t have to tell the Beacons tennis team that. They know from experience.

The Beacons (5-7 overall, 3-3 in Little East play) got off to a slow 0-5 start. The lack of key players and facing two regionally-ranked teams early on sure didn’t help the Beacons’ cause either.

But when many other teams would have thrown in the towel, the Beacons just kept fighting harder.

“It wasn’t easy to get that first win,” Berg says. “But I think the guys became mentally tougher from our tough schedule.”

Sure, the tough schedule played a part in the surge. But just ask the players and they’ll tell you a lot of it is really attributed to Berg’s continuous determination.

“One day, instead of practice, we just had a conversation as a whole team,” junior Amit Kumar explains. “We focused on what we were doing wrong and what we as a team needed to improve on.

“It gave a chance for each player to express his opinion and I think it was really beneficial.”

Junior Paul Braude was on the same page.

“We just started working as a team and fed off each other’s positive behavior,” Braude says. “Also, plenty of support from the coaches.”

To make such an impact in only his second season as men’s head coach only reflects the phenomenal job that Berg has done. After a dismal 2007 campaign (2-6 overall, 1-5 in Little East play), instead of putting it in the past, Berg learned a lesson from it. “Take absolutely nothing for granted until it happens,” he says.

Berg will also be the first to tell you that he still has a lot more he believes he can learn.

“We need to focus a lot more on conditioning,” he says. “We also need to play more matches, which means playing tournaments over the summer.”

It’s not all bad though. Berg has also picked up on some positive things from coaching this team.

“This team has helped reinforce my belief that hard work and perseverance is more important than talent,” Berg says.

The feelings of praise are mutual between Berg and his players.

“Coach Berg was a former Division I tennis player,” Braude explains. “So he knows the game inside and out. He is probably the best strategist on the court.”

That strategy is going to come in handy as the LEC Conference Tournament approaches. Both the players and the coaches remain optimistic about the Beacons’ chances.

“To be honest,” Kumar says, “every single member of the team is looking forward [to] the LEC conference tournament.”

The Beacons’ latest run only increases the confidence they’ve had since day one.

“To win the LEC conference was our goal from the beginning of the year,” Berg explains.

Kumar sees the season as providing blocks to build upon.

“As a team we reflect on the matches we lost and figure out what we need to improve on, and we incorporate that in practice,” he explains, “so the next time we won’t make the same mistakes.

“This is one of the reasons we have a high chance of winning the LEC tournament.”

Paul Braude takes it even further.

“I believe we easily have the most talented team,” Braude states.

With that kind of confidence radiating from the team, the Beacons seem poised to make a deep run in the LEC tournament.

The rest of the LEC better take notice.