Cranes netters look for chemistry in doubles after heavy graduation losses

By: Sue Teggart | C&G Newspapers | Published September 13, 2011


And the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood boys tennis team enters the 2011 season facing both challenges, as the Cranes return just a handful of players from a squad that finished as Division 3 state champions a year ago.

“We lost seven seniors,” coach Jeff Etterbeek said. “We have doubles players we’re developing, and so far they’re working hard and showing great improvement. We’ve got to work hard, keep improving, and hopefully, we’ll be competitive for the (state) tournament.”

Replacing seven seniors — including two individual state champion doubles teams in Daniel and Matthew Gold, and Alex David and Brady Sheehan — is a tall order.

“It’s very different this year. Last year, we had all players that knew what they were doing, and we knew we were really good, and this year we have a lot of players that are new,” said senior and No. 2 singles player Michael Kaye. “We’re a lot greener, less experienced. Still, if we work hard, we should do well.”

Three top players return to play singles in junior Matt McCormick (No. 1), Kaye, who won an individual state title at No. 4 singles last year, and senior Max Manley (No. 3), who won at No. 1 doubles last year. Another key veteran is senior Andrew Georgeson (No. 1 doubles), who last season comprised half of the No. 2 state championship doubles team with then senior Corey Goodstein.

“We have good senior leadership. We have good experience at the top of our lineup,” Etterbeek said. “I think our challenge is going to be getting the depth in the doubles, because we have so many new players coming into those positions. Basically, we’re new at No. 2, 3 and 4 doubles, and No. 4 singles.”

Etterbeek said developing his doubles players’ chemistry is key at this point.

“We come out here and we practice hard every day,” he said. “I have my top singles players playing against my doubles players trying to develop these doubles teams and their chemistry. They understand what they need to do to keep their status as a top team.”

McCormick said the newcomers are stepping up their games to adjust to the varsity rigors.
“They’re playing a lot more aggressively than they did at the JV level,” McCormick said. “They’re serving bigger, hitting harder. There’s better communication.

“I’ve had to step up and be more consistent with my shots,” McCormick said about raising his game. “I’ve had to adjust to other players’ games. There are a lot bigger, harder hitters, and I’ve had to really refine my game.”

Kaye said the veterans are helping the new players progress.

“We know that those of us that are seniors and more experienced have to show a lot more leadership and help out our younger guys a lot more,” Kaye said. “This year, we have a lot of room to grow.”

Georgeson said to develop the doubles teams, the Cranes, who were 4-0-1 in the Catholic League and 5-1-1 overall at press time, are focusing on the fundamentals.

“If we learn the fundamentals of the game — how to play, when to poach — then we will be successful,” he said. “The best way to do that is by practicing poaching drills and doing a lot of match play. We’ve been working on a lot of footwork, technique, serving and returning. I’m working with my partner a lot and trying to get the other guys motivated.”

Cranbrook, ranked No. 1 in D-3 by the MHTeCA in its Sept. 5 poll, takes on top-ranked D-1 Detroit Catholic Central at 4 p.m. Sept. 15 in an away match.