Stefan Schiff wants to be in harmony in mind and body when he competes for the Bexley boys tennis team.
The junior returns after playing first singles last spring, which was his first varsity experience after losing his freshman season to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schiff is now ready to take the next step with the Lions.
“The most difficult thing about tennis is getting out of those mental blocks,” he said. “As a young kid, you start to hit those ages when you’re a little more self-aware, and you realize that everyone is watching you and the decisions you make. You have to focus on yourself and your game.
“You have to block out the perceptions of others. You have to take your own journey and work to improve your mind and body day by day. That’s what I try to do when I get on the court. “
Second-year coach Will Gingery said Schiff is a tireless worker who is always looking for ways to improve his game.
“It’s tough to outwork Stefan,” Gingery said. “He’s determined and self-motivated. Before the season, he was taking classes until 12:30 (pm) and then going to Wickertree (Tennis) Club from 1-6 (pm) four days a week to work on his game. Not many high school kids are that dedicated.
“He took his lumps in some matches playing first singles with the tough schedule that we had, and still have. That motivated him to work hard and have a better shot against those kids. He’s all business on the court and pushes the other kids to be at their best. “
Schiff started playing when he was 8, and quickly realized that it was the sport he would focus on.
“I played every sport when I was younger, but then I wanted to narrow it down to the sport that I enjoy the most,” he said. “That was tennis for me. Really, I enjoy the pressure and getting out there on the court and putting on a show. I love getting competitive with it. ”
Last season, the Lions won their first league championship since 2012, tying Columbus Academy and Wellington for first (5-1) in the MSL-Ohio Division.
Schiff and 2021 graduate Will Meyer reached a state-qualifying doubles match in the Division II district tournament, losing 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-0 to Academy’s Jack Madison and Arie Tuckerman.
“My whole life I loved singles more, but doubles have definitely grown on me,” said Schiff, who was the first-team all-league.
Juniors Austin Flamm (first-team all-league), Mitchell Giller (second-team all-league), Blake Simons (second-team all-league) and Drew Solar are also back, while Duncan Johnson (honorable mention all-league) would have been a senior but graduated early.
Freshmen Aaron Jones and Sam Lessard expect to be in the mix as well.
Schiff has been nursing a groin injury but is excited to show what he can do this spring.
“Both my teammates and I have put in a lot of work in the offseason,” he said. “I want to be playing with focus, intention and attention.
“I’d rather go on the court once a week for an hour and put in hard, focused work than get on the court seven days a week and just slack off. I’ve been trying to stay focused when I’m out there. I want to find ways to block anything that can keep me from maximizing my potential. ”
• Coach: Will Gingery, second season
• Top players: Austin Flamm, Mitchell Giller, Sam Lessard, Stefan Schiff, Blake Simons and Drew Solar
• Key losses: Duncan Johnson and Will Meyer
• Last season: 14-7 overall
• 2021 MSL-Ohio standings: Bexley (5-1), Columbus Academy (5-1), Wellington (5-1), Grandview (3-3), Buckeye Valley (2-4), Worthington Christian (1-5), Whitehall (0-6) )
• Coach: Costas Alevizopoulos, first season
• Top players: Daniel Ferguson, Brady Pema and Victor Roscoe
• Key losses: Keller Bueneman, Daniel Marino, Andy Somodi and Reece Yakubov
• Last season: 9-5 overall
• 2021 CCL standings: St. Charles (4-0), Watterson (3-1), DeSales (2-2), Hartley (1-3), Ready (0-4)
• Outlook: The Cardinals have a new coach in Costas Alevizopoulos, who replaced Max Quinton after four seasons. A 2017 Denison graduate, Alevizopoulos attended high school in Greece before playing tennis for the Big Red.
He has been a pro at Players Club for five years and helps during the summer at Swim & Racquet.
St. Charles lost one of the state’s top competitors to graduation in Reece Yakubov, a four-time state qualifier who plays at Ohio State. Senior Brady Pema and sophomore Victor Roscoe are likely to play first and second singles, with senior Daniel Ferguson, sophomore Brogan Rogers and freshman Will Kennedy vying for third singles.
Whoever is not playing singles will be in the mix at doubles along with sophomores Lucas Fanning, Billy Harrier and Andrew Kane.
• Quotable: “We have a young team, but they’ve been willing to put in time and work on their skills. We’re focused on being organized and working on a long-term plan. I want to develop a deep team that gets along on and off the court. ” – Alevizopoulos