Rochester High tennis coach continuing strong in 46th year

By: Edward Zilincik | Rochester Post | Published September 11, 2018

 Rochester High’s Vlad Meluta prepares to return a shot in a match earlier this season. Meluta is  at No. 1 singles for  the Falcons.

Rochester High’s Vlad Meluta prepares to return a shot in a match earlier this season. Meluta is at No. 1 singles for the Falcons.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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ROCHESTER — Jerry Murphy has been at Rochester High for nearly half a century. Murphy previously coached football along with tennis.

“I started here at Rochester High as a teacher and coach in 1972,” said Murphy. “I coached football that fall and then tennis the following spring.”

Ever since that spring, Murphy has been at the head of the Rochester tennis program. In Murphy’s view, it is the job of the coach to put his players in the best position to win, along with making sure he doesn’t overwork them.

“As coach, I try to be organized, but also make sure that we attempt to schedule programs that will help show where our team is,” said Murphy. “You don’t want to exhaust these kids either. We try to schedule about one hour and a half practices to make sure these kids get home to take care of their homework.”

In leading his program, Murphy attempts to schedule teams that he hopes his squad will be able to beat in order to gain confidence. Then he attempts to schedule teams that he refers to as “big shooter schools,” in order for his program to take its shot at beating the best.

“It’s my responsibility to properly schedule our opponents for us to have our best shot at success,” said Murphy. “It’s sports — let’s see how we do.”

This season, the team has a healthy opportunity to be successful, in Murphy’s view. Last season, the Falcons were able to finish second in Oakland Activities Association White Division, while also finishing one point away from a state final appearance.

The team returns four seniors, while it lost four at the end of last season. Regardless of the number of seniors the team has, Murphy still is of the opinion that the Falcons are more of an underclassman-heavy team.

“Our two senior captains are Kurt Patalinghug and Yash Kumar,” said Murphy. “Vlad Meluta is a junior, but is one of my best players and my lead singles player who made the All-State team last year.”

Last season, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek won the OAA White and has since moved to the OAA Red.

“We want to win our division and make states,” said Patalinghug. “This is a fun group of kids, and we think we have a pretty good shot at having a good year.”

According to both Kumar and Patalinghug, the team is not only strong on the court, but it is tight off the court as well.

Preceding the beginning of the season, Murphy had each member of his team write down their goals.

There were generic goals that Murphy was used to hearing scattered throughout the responses. One goal that Murphy was happy to hear some of his team members state was the goal of beating their rivals, a concept he tries to instill within the team.

Murphy noted that Stoney Creek and Rochester Adams are both in the Red Division, a level above the White, where Rochester resides.     

“That is something that we as a team should take personally and compete hard, because we’re a pretty good team,” Murphy said.

Kumar feels that his coach helps the team succeed with his managerial style and wealth of experience.

“Coach Murphy is awesome,” said Kumar. “He gives great pep talks before games; he has valuable stories of the past and can help us adjust in matches to improve.”

Overall, Murphy accepts that his team isn’t always going to have a spectacular year on the court, but he hopes to see effort and improvement.

“I always expect my team to have a good attitude, but we also want them to have fun,” said Murphy. “Also, we want to improve each day and be better today than we started yesterday.”

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