Berkley High tennis dreaming big

By: Christian Davis | Woodward Talk | Published April 25, 2016

 Berkley High’s Annabel Berlin returns a shot in a tournament April 23. The Bears were 4-0 overall at press time. Berlin is one of three captains.

Berkley High’s Annabel Berlin returns a shot in a tournament April 23. The Bears were 4-0 overall at press time. Berlin is one of three captains.

Photo by Sean Work

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In Lenny Waldman’s 12 years coaching the Berkley High girls tennis team, the program has won division titles and earned trips to the state finals.

But one title has eluded the Bears.

“We’ve had some strong seasons, but we’ve never captured an (Oakland Activities Association) White championship with the girls. It’s always a hopeful thing,” Waldman said, adding that the program has won the Blue multiple times.

With his current group and start, Waldman sees a chance of ending that streak.

At press time, Berkley was 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the White, with 8-0 sweeps of Lake Orion High and Rochester High.

Birmingham Groves and Rochester Adams, teams that Waldman called the favorites, along with Farmington High, Farmington Hills Harrison and Royal Oak High, are still on the schedule.

“It’s almost easier to get the 18 points at a regional (to qualify for the state finals) than win a league title, because it’s that intense and close caliber of play in the league,” Waldman said, adding that he’s had teams finish in the top 10 of the state, but third in the White. “You have top-notched teams all compiled into one spot.”

Berkley’s success has come from a strong senior class and a feeder program that is starting to pay dividends.

The Bears returned 10 of 12 starters from the group that finished third in the White last season.

“I’m a little surprised (by our start), but I knew we were getting stronger. We have six seniors, so over time they’ve developed as players,” Waldman said. “It took a lot to change that thinking and mentality. … You can’t just pick up a racket in the spring — you have to foster that play throughout the year as much as possible. The girls have really taken to that.”

Seniors MacKenzie Newman, Tori Nowak and Annabel Berlin captain the team.

Newman is in her fourth year playing No. 1 singles.

“She’s just one of these determined, strong-willed players. She just leaves it all out on the court,” Waldman said. “She truly follows that statement: No excuses, no regrets.”

Nowak is playing her fourth year at No. 2 singles.

“‘Determined’ is her middle name,” Waldman said. “Tori is just all business on the court. She’s a tenacious, determined player who really thinks about her game as she’s playing it.”

Berlin makes her mark at No. 2 doubles along with her playing partner, senior Hana Coon.

“(Berlin) is a very methodical player. She thinks about the process of her play. She’s one of my strong examples that if you put in the effort, you’ll get stronger, you’ll get better,” Waldman said.

Another key piece in the lineup is at No. 1 doubles with senior Leah Krasnick and sophomore Lacey Davidson.
Waldman said the duo shares a combination of “power and poise.”

“They balance out so well. They both are girls that have singles ability and doubles ability,” Waldman said.

With the strong start, Waldman said his expectations and mentality have changed. In practice, he’s increasing the intensity and work because he knows the team can handle it and hopes it may lead to the top of the White.

“It’s a goal. We want to see how far we can take it,” he said.

Catch the Bears against Farmington at 4 p.m. April 28 on the road.

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