Rick Holtz is the new leader of the North Montgomery boys’ tennis program heading into the 2020 season.
The Chargers struggled last season, but historically have been competitive within the county and Sagamore Conference in the last decade, including sectional titles in 2011 and 2015. Holtz, who played high school tennis at Merrillville and most recently coached the Northridge Middle School teams, is ready to steer the program back in the right direction.
“Every program hits a rough patch,” he said. “The biggest thing for the guys to remember going into a new season is that last season does not matter. That’s the beauty of a new season – it’s a fresh start. Everyone starts off 0-0. Beyond that we are going to be working hard to get back to the fundamentals of the game. It’s one thing to lose to a better team. It is another thing to lose because you got outworked.”
Holtz instilled fundamentals at the middle school level and plans to continue with that emphasis at the varsity level.
“I want these guys to play the game with passion because they love the game of tennis,” Holtz added. “In middle school we worked on just learning the sport and learning the fundamentals. Why does that have to change just because we are at the high school level? I want my team to be fundamentally sound – to know when to attack the ball and when to stay back. Tennis is a game that these guys can play all their life.”
North Montgomery will take it one stroke at a time as they try and find a winning groove.
“A big principle that I teach is forget about the last point,” Holtz said. “One way to stay positive is to forget that last shot. A player hit their last shot into the net? Fine, take two seconds and fix your strings and get back on the line and get ready for the next serve. It works the opposite too. Did you just hit a great shot for a winner? Good job, fix your strings and get ready for your next shot.”
Like all other fall teams across the state, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on summer workouts, but Holtz knows the Chargers can’t use that as an excuse.
“Every program out there in every sport is going through the same challenges that we are with the pandemic,” he said. “Training this summer is a different animal all together. In the past you never had to pay attention to which set of balls you are taking out to the courts to hit with. Now the balls we use on a Monday can’t be the same balls we use on a Wednesday. But a tennis ball is a tennis ball. We can’t use the pandemic as an excuse not to work hard to get ready for the upcoming season.”
“I look for big things this year from our guys. I expect our freshmen to make a big impact and contribute immediately.”
Holtz encourages athletes to join the team. The Chargers will have their first workout on Monday, July 6 at 5 p.m. and will workout on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-7 during July. Interested players can contact coach Holtz on Twitter @Rick_Holtz and @NMChargertennis. Players do not have to have tennis experience to join. All players must have a physical on file with the athletic office, and every player must bring their own water jug to workouts and must come in a mask that they can wear when they are on the courts.