Tennis team exceeded expectations in 2019
The Emmaus boys tennis program had a new boss and a new attitude during 2019.
Brian Bleam, in his first season as the team’s head coach, imported a philosophy that focused on consistent improvement. Whether it was conditioning, footwork, fundamentals, strategy, developing new volleys, the Green Hornets knew each practice and each match was an opportunity to become a better tennis players.
The direction paid dividends. The boys realized an outstanding 14-3 record overall and a 11-2 mark in the EPC. Bleam was most proud of two of those 14 victories - against Nazareth and Parkland. The win over the Blue Eagles was the first in years. The victory over Troy was the first since 2004.
“We possibly even exceeded my expectations,” Bleam said. “One of my goals this season was to beat Parkland,”
A major reason for exceeding his expectations was the remarkable play of sophomore Sean Jaeger, who won a second straight district title and played in that state championship tournament last Friday.
Bleam said during the season that Jaeger is so motivated to get better that he is sometimes harder on himself than his coach.
Jaeger last in straight sets in the first round of the state tournament, 7-5, 6-0, Friday in Hershey where he faced the runner-up from District 1.
His teammates also produced solid seasons. That included Quinn Erk, the Hornets’ number two player, who played doubles with Jaeger and Aiden Springs. Both doubles pairings came through big-time for the Green Hornets.
Erk also registered several good performances in his singles matches throughout the year. Erk improved as the weather outside got warmer. In some cases, he won matches on his guile.
Case in point was a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 victory over Parkland’s Matthew Liu. While perhaps not as technically proficient as Liu, Erk played a played a smart game and at time frustrated Liu into submission.
“It may not have been pretty, but it was effective,” Bleam said.
The doubles team of Grant Haffner and Kevin Gee also developed during the year. That progression culminated in thrilling, clutch wins over Nazareth’s Soham Patel and Hamed Seleman and Parkland’s Fyodor D’Souza and Conrad Lee.
“It was their mental toughness that got them through those matches,” said the coach.
The same could be said of all the Green Hornets, who produced a successful season in 2019, exceeding their coaches expectations.