Boys tennis | Season preview

Ben Kalisch takes over at No. 1 singles for Valparaiso's boys tennis team

2011-08-17T18:08:00Z 2012-08-15T05:36:07Z Ben Kalisch takes over at No. 1 singles for Valparaiso's boys tennis teamBy Jim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com

Valparaiso junior Ben Kalisch was overjoyed he gained three inches in height since last fall.

Not only does he hold bragging rights as the tallest member of his family, but now he's been able to add power to his tennis game.

"When I realized that I was taller than my dad (Steve), it was one of the best days of my life," Kalisch said. "I was also pretty pleased, because I'm able do more things with my game."

Kalisch needed to add to his tennis skills set, because he moved up a spot to No. 1 singles. Kalisch has played at No. 2 singles the last two years. He finished 19-1 as a sophomore.

"I think he's looking forward to the challenge," Valparaiso coach Tim Shideler. "He had a really good game already, but he's added a little bit bigger serve and bigger forehand.

"He's a very steady player."

Since the recent growth spurt has been in place a few months, Kalisch has been able to settle himself.

"That really helped that I have been able to get coordinated with a bigger frame," Kalisch said. "I've been able to adjust, and now there's not much uncertainty about things."

Kalisch is quite certain he'll be a more aggressive player this season.

"I didn't feel like I was aggressive as I needed to be," he said. "Now I feel like I can push the play.

"I practiced at the net. Now I can take advantage of more short balls and finish more."

Kalisch also feels like he can win points quicker with the added mileage on his serve, plus the added length helps him reach more shots.

"I can reach up higher now and hit from a better angle on my serve," he said. "I also have a little more length on my backhand and forehand. Overall, that makes me a better player."

Kalisch also has a new role on the squad as team leader. Marc Shideler, the coach's son, spent the previous four years at No. 1 for the Vikings. He's now at Western Michigan.

Kalisch spent a lot of practice time with Shideler, and the junior believes he's taken those lessons to heart.

"Marc practiced just as hard as he could to make me better along with working on his game," said Kalisch, who now practices with junior No. 2 Marty Pochop. "We helped make each other better players.

"That's what I'm doing now with Marty. He helps me feel more comfortable with my game."

Kalisch is also comfortable playing new opponents, like some of the area's top players in Kankakee Valley's Luke Sanderson -- who beat Kalisch in Monday's season opener -- and Merrillville's Leonard Matthews.

"I've known these guys for a while," Kalisch said. "It's not like I haven't met them in person, and all I have is horrifying thoughts about playing them.

"I'm able to relax and continue to grow my game."

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