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Serving up team spirit

Ben Pham '27

May 10, 2024

Last Wednesday, Mercersburg Academy’s boys varsity tennis team played Highland School in a nail-biting series of matches resulting in a close loss of 4-5. This is yet another loss added to the record in a turbulent season. 

Max Zhang ’26 commented, “The season hasn’t been great. Even though we have a winning record I think, we haven’t done that well in the MAPL [the Mid-Atlantic Prep League].” 

Simon Brennan ’26 also acknowledged the tough season, saying, “Our season has been up and down.” Brennan believed there was still hope, however, adding, “I feel we definitely think we can do better, but as long as we are all in the right headspace and locked in for the MAPL tournament and PAISAA [the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association], I think we can really end this season on a high note.”

This year, the boys tennis team welcomed an addition to the team with the new coach Matt Mehler, who seems to be settling into the role really well. 

Dave Nguyen ’24 stated, “I think coach Matt is really energetic and caring.” Brennan agreed: “Coach Matt is a great coach and a great guy. He really cares about our team and us as players. He will come up to Max Zhang and [me], and really motivate us when we are down, and make sure we are focused when we are up.” Eric Wang ’26 observed, “He’s different from our coach last year, coach Blaine Davies. Matt is more inclusive and makes us feel more like a family rather than just a team.” 

A more inclusive and better atmosphere has helped with the team dynamic. Zhang said, “I think the team gets along better because everyone is more focused and fits better. I think the team bonds better this year–we even had a hotpot trip.” Regarding his teammates, Nguyen added, “I think the chemistry and team bonding is a lot better than last year. During away games, we support each other a lot.”

Despite the improved atmosphere and overall happiness within the team, Zhang said, “We haven’t been very consistent this year. Simon and I should do better at number 1 doubles, and the team isn’t as deep as last year.” 

The team's depth proves to be a consistent challenge, with Brennan commenting, “As a young team, I think that a challenge we have is confidence and the mental part of the game. Confidence is always key and the mental part of the game is what determines if you win or lose your match.”

Compared to last year’s team, this year’s team consists of a lot more underclassmen. Brennan explained, “This year's team is a lot younger with our number one to five singles [players] all being sophomores and juniors.” With a big loss of top senior players, a spotlight shone on the younger players. Brennan continued, “This year’s team really had to step up and the returners are really proud of this year's team.”

Heading towards the end of the season, focus remains a priority. Nguyen explained, “We still have to keep it serious, there are a lot of seniors on the team that are graduating so we need to focus on every single game.” 

As the boys set their sights on the MAPL and PAISAA tournaments, Zhang stated, “We are trying to do well and practice hard, it's all about being better than yesterday.” With the MAPL championships at home this Saturday, the team is hoping to see this season out on a high note.

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