Blekhman’s perseverance leads him to Division I tennis career

Skylar Kreske, asst. sports editor

From feeling burnt out to becoming a Division I college commit, senior Marc Blekhman, boys’ tennis player, has persevered throughout his career and watched it pay off in full.

Blekhman has been playing tennis since he was 5 years old, starting as an endeavor that was just as fun and games. However, the sport has turned into a promising future and he’s developed a fierce love for the game.

Blekhman committed to Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Larry Faulkner, varsity boys’ tennis coach, said that reaching Blekhman’s level and making it to a Division I school for tennis is no easy feat. Faulkner explained that tennis recruiters search the world for talent, so recruited players not only need to stand out nationally, but globally.

“If you look at a lot of college tennis teams, you shouldn’t be surprised if over half of them were foreign-born,” Faulkner said. “To make a Division I team is really, really special. Marc is going to play Division I in the Patriot League, which also has high academic standards, so kudos to him for maintaining great academics and excelling in tennis.”

Despite Blekhman’s promising future, the road to this point was not always easy. Once Blekhman started getting serious about tennis, he faced uncertainty and hardship which eventually pushed him to quit. 

“I wasn’t doing well in tournaments when I started competing, [so] I quit when I was 14 for three months [and decided to play soccer],” Blekhman said. “The [mental] break helped me. When I was feeling burnt out, I realized that I was focusing more on the results of winning. So, I started focusing more on the process of just improving and getting better. Ever since then, it really helped me stay motivated.”

As Blekhman played soccer, he came to notice differences between the two sports. As the time away allowed him to miss certain aspects of tennis and eventually drew him back.

“One of my favorite things is the individual part of tennis, even though it’s kind of daunting,” Blekhman said. “It’s nice when you have full control of the situation on your own. I remember when I played soccer, I hated that I would have to rely on my other teammates.”

As a freshman, Blekhman quit once more, but this time he was leaving soccer and making his way back to tennis. Over the years he has grown and made great strides as a player, Faulkner said.

“Besides his physical maturity, from freshman year to now, I think he’s [grown] much more confident,” Faulkner said. “He displays much, much better sportsmanship as well. You can’t dwell on anything, and I’ve seen Marc grow to where he’s able to do that.”

Senior Ben Soyfer, one of Blekhman’s teammates, also spoke highly of his character on and off the court.

“Marc is a very nice, encouraging friend and teammate,” Soyfer said. “Marc is one of the most competitive athletes I have met. Not only is he competitive, but he is very respectful on the court, and has amazing sportsmanship.”

Soyfer sees Blekhman’s mental fortitude as one of his strengths as an athlete.

“Marc does not let anyone get in his head,” Soyfer said. “He plays every point as a new point, rather than putting himself down from mistakes in previous points, he only brings himself up and as a result brings positivity towards the team.”

Blekhman finds that the best athletes focus on the mental aspect of the game as much as the physical, a sentiment Faulkner echoed. His mental strength is what allows him to succeed.

“In order to be a good athlete you don’t need to be good physically, but you need to be good in the mental department,” Blekhman said. “Just like in any sport, you can be physically strong, but if you don’t have a good mentality, and if you don’t have a good work ethic, then it does not really matter.”