Bloomfield Hills High senior Andrew Zhang returns a serve in a Sept. 13 match against Troy Athens. Zhang is the Black Hawks’ top singles player and, at press time, had not lost a match this season.

Bloomfield Hills High senior Andrew Zhang returns a serve in a Sept. 13 match against Troy Athens. Zhang is the Black Hawks’ top singles player and, at press time, had not lost a match this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Bloomfield Hills High tennis working hard toward continued success

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 1, 2018


BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Bloomfield Hills High boys tennis couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2018 season. At press time, the Black Hawks were 9-0-1 overall and 4-0 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division.

Last season ended with the Black Hawks capturing their second state title in three years as they narrowly beat out Troy High, a team in the same division.

Coach Greg Burks said that playing Troy in the division helps his team prepare for a possible rematch in the state tournament.

“It gives you an idea of what’s to come, because a lot of these teams improve,” Burks said. “We did very well against Troy last year in the dual meet, and then they came out on fire at states. It gives you an idea that if a team is tough the first time around, you just have to anticipate that they’re going to get better.”

A lot of the success the Black Hawks have seen this season is due to its senior-heavy roster. No. 1 singles runner-up and Duke University commit Andrew Zhang has not lost a match this season. Burks said that what makes Zhang so good is his ability to control everything on the court that can be controlled. He’s not going to give away points; his opponents will have to earn them.  

He believes Zhang’s effort has trickled down to the rest of the team.

“All the way through … I feel like we don’t give much away,” Burks said. “Not a ton of unforced errors. If somebody’s going to beat us, they’re going to have to beat us, and I love that. We’re not giving much to the opponent; they’ve got to do the work too.”

As usual, the success has not come without its trials. Over the summer and into this season, the team has tried to make some improvements. Junior Tommy Herb (No. 2 singles) said that he believes the team’s energy is a lot better this year than it was last year. Herb also wants to see some improvements from himself on the court as the season progresses.

“Personally, I’ve had some losses that I need to fix,” he said. “I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I think with regionals soon, I’ll do a lot better.”

Being complacent can be easy to do when a team has had so much success in the postseason. If a team has done well in years past, the possibility is there that it may just expect to make a run in the state tournament because it has done it before.

Burks has worked hard to make sure his team doesn’t feel that way, and the group has responded. With so many seniors on the team, players know how many good teams are out there, some even in their own division. That alone drives them to be at their best every match.

“We know what it takes to win, and collectively as a group we hate to lose,” Zhang said. “I think that’s what keeps us going.”

The Black Hawks are set to lose 10 players after this season is over. But Burks said the team will be in good shape moving forward as bright young talents, including freshman Noah Roslin, will be ready to step up. Roslin is currently part of the team’s top doubles pairing.

“Losing 10 guys is not easy, but I feel like we also do a decent job of bringing up talent, and hopefully we’ll be able to recover quick,” Burks said. “If not, we’ll just keep working harder.”

The team still has a long way to go before it can start thinking about next year’s challenges. There are still things the Black Hawks hope to accomplish this season. Zhang and Herb both said they want to capture a second straight state crown. Zhang added that he wants to add a singles state title to his repertoire.

For Burks, it’s all about continuing to get better.   

“Whatever happens in the end, happens in the end,” he said. “Progress is our main goal.”