Men’s tennis off to strong start

Transfer Mac Zheng, ‘18, has made an immediate impact on the men’s tennis team in both singles and doubles

Tanner Smith

Mac Zheng, ‘18, has yet to lose a singles tennis match in the spring season as a General, which started on Feb. 22.

Zheng, who transferred from Emory College in the fall, has started out his Generals career with a bang, as he was named ODAC Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 26. He has also gone 8–0 in singles matches in the spring season, as he started his winning streak on Feb. 22 and it has stretched into his most recent match on Mar. 8, a win against Kyle Appgar, ’19, of Shenandoah University.

“He is a competitor who wants to win and finds a way to win,” Head Coach David Detwiler said. “It is nice that he is a lefty so it is different for his opponents because it is tougher to handle his serve. It is something that they do not see all of the time.”

Zheng has enjoyed his run of success, but prefers to focus on team success, as the team has gotten off to a 6–2 start to the season so far. “It always feels good to win,” Zheng said. “I just want to keep winning. But, ultimately, I just want to see our team keep winning these close matches like the one against Swarthmore. That was a great win for us and I hope we have more wins like that the rest of the season.”

The Swarthmore match that Zheng is referring to occurred on Mar. 4, as W&L won that contest 6–3. In that competition Zheng won both his No. 5 singles match and his No. 2 doubles match with his partner, Thomas Harmon, ’20.

Success in doubles is nothing new to Zheng and Harmon, as they have gone 7–1 on the spring season as doubles partners. Zheng thinks that Harmon perfectly complements his game.

“Thomas and I are a very good pair and I really enjoy playing with him because I feel like we are in sync,” Zheng said. “He is very strong from the baseline and I am good at the net so we balance each other out. Our game styles allow us to play very well together.”

Harmon agrees that he works well with Zheng and thinks that he feeds off of playing with Zheng.

“It has been a lot of fun playing with Mac,” Harmon said. “He gets really excited and into the matches and that helps pump me up too.”

This is Detwiler’s first season coaching Zheng, but he has already seen qualities of a savvy, versatile tennis player.

“His best qualities are that he has a really good serve [and] a forehand that he can hurt you with,” Detwiler said. “His backhand sets up his forehand and he can hit it or slice it. He has a variety he can throw at you, whether he has to be aggressive or use a counterpuncher.”

While Zheng has a variety of strengths that have led him to his early success on the season, he has one aspect of his game that he said he wants to improve.

“I would like to work a little bit more on my movement,” Zheng said. “Our coaches have done a great job including more agility training and footwork training within our practices. I need to be more focused on those drills and ultimately make a conscious effort to keep moving my feet.”

Detwiler agrees that Zheng should focus on his agility, but attributes this to Zheng’s lack of competitive matches over his first two college seasons at Emory.

“I think he wants to be on a team where he is playing in matches that matter so I think he is really enjoying the competition,” Detwiler said. “I think it has been difficult for him to get back into tennis shape, and he has really made an effort to do that. I think he is fitting in well and I think he is really enjoying himself.”

Zheng has loved his transition to W&L so far, as the school has offered him opportunities on and off the tennis court, as he knows his time in school is slowly running out.

“I really enjoy the academics here,” Zheng said. “I have been taught by TAs the last two years so I feel like the teaching here is very concentrated. Tennis has been really good too; it feels like a family. The school also has a very fun social side as well so I have enjoyed all aspects of it.”