The snow and ice have started to melt as spring starts to inch closer and closer. For the Lansing Bobcats’ Tennis team, the spring brings a new look to the program that has secured itself as one of the more successful teams in the area. The new look comes in the form of a new coach, Brian Streb, who takes over the program that he has also competed for in the past.
Streb, who already spends time with the Bobcat’s as the coach of the Modified Boy’s Soccer team, takes on the new challenge of leading the program after the departure of former coach Mike Bryant, who led the way in making Lansing Tennis a household name.
Ahead of his debut season, Streb opened up about his new role and his outlook for the program.
MS: What made you want to come back and take over the program that you once played for?
BS: Lansing has been my home. I grew up here and have a great connection with not only the kids in the schools but the community too. When I returned from abroad two years ago, I got back into the soccer program, and I’ve been fortunate that the door for tennis opened up. The opportunity was there and I felt I could help continue this program that has been so successful recently.
MS: Tennis around the area has been extremely competitive in years past. What are you expecting to have to deal with knowing that there are so many good programs around?
BS: I know there’s the old cliché that this is a new year, but with us, that’s completely true. We graduated all of our singles players from last year, two of whom competed for spots at states. However, so did other teams across the board and the new pecking order has yet to be figured out. While we lost a bit of talent, we still have plenty left and it’s going to be fun figuring out who will play where because every spot is available and none have been determined, yet.
MS: What has changed in the tennis scene since you last played?
BS: This biggest difference is that while we still have players that only play in the spring, there are a lot more playing year-round, taking lessons, and really working to make themselves better tennis players. This is why Lansing’s program has been so successful as of late, and I hope to help continue that trend.
MS: What, if any, changes do you hope to make in order to put your own stamp on the program?
BS: There aren’t really any wholesale changes I’m going to make. Mike Bryant, the previous coach, is a gold standard when it comes to teaching kids the game of tennis. My goal is to keep winning IAC titles and sending kids to state qualifiers. It’s a pretty high bar, but we look at it as a challenge.
MS: How do you hope to grow the program’s size and success under your leadership?
BS: While this year, I feel we have a strong team, in a couple of years we’ll need more kids playing as our current crop will have graduated. Tennis is only offered as a varsity sport, and so it can be hard to get kids to transfer over from other sports when they’ve been offered since middle school. To keep this program humming we need more kids to play and develop before they get to high school.
Streb and the Bobcats will begin the season with a home match against Watkins Glen on March 26.
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