In the Locker Room With Soren Zeliger and Ian Paik

This week the Review sat down with men’s tennis players, junior captain Soren Zeliger and first-year Ian Paik, to discuss expectations for the upcoming year and how head coach Eric Ishida is adjusting in his second year with the team.

Nate Levinson, Sports Editor

What do you expect from the tennis team this season?

Soren Zeliger: Definitely a better finish than last year. That’s the most concrete goal that we can set. Also a better record, since our team is improved already. It’s hard to have expectations, though, since a lot of things are changing. We have six first-years on the team, and Charlie Marks and I are the only upperclassmen on the team.

Ian Paik: Everything is kind of new, so I don’t have many expectations. I do want to be in the top half of our conference, at least.


What does having six first-years mean for the team?

SZ: It means we run sprints on the regular. That sets the tone early for a very new team.

IP: [Head coach] Eric [Ishida] always emphasizes that we don’t have any tradition. A couple years ago, they didn’t win a single match. He says that anything we do starts a new tradition.


Tennis is a very individualistic sport, but you guys compete as a team. How do you feel about that dynamic?

SZ: College tennis is very team oriented. If you come to one of our matches, we’ll be getting loud and yelling across the courts. It’s really nice to have high energy out there. Aside from the on-court stuff, we eat together and we’re all very close, so even though we play an individual sport, it’s still a very tightly knit team.

IP: It’s still a team atmosphere even though we go out there and compete on our own.


Do you have a better backhand or forehand?

SZ: Its kind of day-to-day. Historically, my backhand has been more solid, but as of late my forehand has been a little more of a weapon.

IP: My forehand is more effective, but my backhand looks a lot better.


What makes tennis unique?

SZ: You have to do a lot of different things in tennis. You have to run, hit a moving object and think how your ball is affecting your opponent and how their ball is affecting you.

IP: If you go to a tennis match and you watch someone who you know outside of tennis for the first time, you’ll see their demeanor completely change. Tennis athletes are a little crazy.


How are things different now that head coach Eric Ishida is in his second year with the team?

SZ: I think he’s a little more comfortable with changing things. He knows how things are here and he’s better able to make changes to the way we practice and also to the culture around the team. He’s the best tennis coach I’ve ever had, and outside of that he’s a great dude.


What is it like being a first-year tennis player?

IP: We almost make up the majority of the team so I don’t see myself as a first-year amongst the team. It’s just: I’m on the team, and so are all of these other people.


What professional tennis players do you try to emulate?

SZ: Andy Murray is my boy. I get compared to him just because we’re both tall, white and have curly hair. I think I actually play like him a little bit.

IP: My favorite player is [Gael] Monfils. He’s on the Professional Circuit. He’s just a goofball out there and is a crowd pleaser. You can tell he’s having a good time.


Do you have any pre-match rituals?

SZ: Not yet. Do you have any ideas for us? The team is looking for suggestions.

IP: PBYP [Poop before you play].


If you could play one sport other than tennis what would it be?

SZ: It’d be awesome to be really good at football and be a really great wide receiver.

IP: Soccer.