It was another outstanding season for Scarsdale Boy’s Varsity Tennis and co-captain Austin Kaplan. The team completed a perfect, undefeated season and achieved excellent post-season results. Unlike other sports postseasons, the tennis team’s postseason operates by pitting singles players or doubles teams against each other in a grand statewide tennis tournament. Several Raiders doubles teams made it to sectional rounds, and co-captain Austin Kaplan made it all the way to the quarterfinal round of the state tournament. The soon to graduate senior juggled end of the year activities including prom and senior options with a crazy tennis schedule and put together an incredible playoff run.
Kaplan has been playing tennis for so long that he can’t remember when he hit his first tennis ball -- though there is an old photo of him holding a tennis racquet at the age of two. Kaplan had been looking forward to playing on the varsity team since his elementary school days, and the four-year starter has unquestionably made his mark on the SHS team. Kaplan has played on the Varsity A team since he was a freshman, which is unusual, given that the high school team is so competitive. He has held the coveted first singles slot since junior year. Last year, he and doubles partner Ben Fife came in first place at the state tournament, and were the first Scarsdale team to do so in quite some time.
Tennis was not something that came easily to the eighteen year-old senior. It was and still is a passionate dedication to the game that has carried Kaplan so far. As a musician and co-president of the SHS Band, Kaplan understands the importance of practice and demonstrates this with a five-day, twelve hour a week training schedule that he has adhered to for the last few years.
In his own words, however, “There’s training and conditioning that you can do to prepare, but at the end of the day there’s just you and your opponent on a court. In that kind of isolated competition, it’s all about heart.” In this respect, Kaplan feels that tennis has molded him into the person he is today. “The guy that’s gonna win is the one who wants it more, and the importance of that mindset for victory in tennis has made me a tougher kid.”
Kaplan’s last few matches were played at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows where the U.S. Open is played every year. In his first round, Kaplan defeated Jonah Berkowitz from FDR High School in Hyde Park 6-1 6-0. He defeated Beacon Senior Justin Fields 6-3 6-4 and broke out of the round of 16, but fell to Herrick’s Vihar Shah 6-3 6-4 to end his tournament run in the quarterfinals. Kaplan described playing in the National Tennis Center as “crazy” and a bit “surreal”.
“It was quite a cool thing to think about,” Kaplan remarked, “I was playing on the courts that I’d been watching the pros play on since I was a little kid.”
Though the entire experience was extremely tense and competitive, Kaplan admits to having a good time. He already knew most of his opponents from playing other USTA (United States Tennis Association) sponsored tournaments, and it was a bit like one last send-off for high-school tennis before he and many of his opponents head off to play college tennis next year. Kaplan intends to continue his tennis career on the University of Pennsylvania tennis team when he attends Wharton next fall.
Photos by Masumi Hamanaka