New coach Matt Golzynski, also a teacher at the school, rediscovered his love for tennis and is sharing his passion with his players.
Editor’s Note: Our initial story incorrectly reported that Lansing Catholic HS tennis team had not had a history of state champion tennis players. We removed that sentence from our story and apologize for the error.
LANSING, Mich. - Matt Golzynski has loved the game of tennis since he was six. He was a member of his varsity team in high school, but fell short of making Michigan State’s varsity team when he got to college.
After that, Golzynski and the game of tennis didn’t connect again for a while.
“As you get older, you get a family and do other things, so some things have to go away,” said Golzynski. “For me, it was tennis.”
However, this past summer, Golzynski felt the spirit to pick up a tennis racket again, because Lansing Catholic high school offered him the boys tennis head coaching position.
“As soon as I spoke with my wife, it was pretty much a no-brainer that I could take this job and run with it,” he said. “It’s one of the best things I’ve done.”
Golzynski, who also is a teacher at Lansing Catholic, hopes to see the program rise again in prominence – and ultimately to contend for their first team state championship.
The team started the 2018 season 8-0.
“Sometimes in high school sports, I think we lose that level of fun,” Golzynski said. “It is just a game, this isn’t the be-all end-all for these guys.”
Senior doubles player Jack Wolfe sees the new coach’s impact.
“I think he has been pretty good at bringing it down to the fundamentals,” Wolfe said. “He’s a teacher, so he’s really good when he brings that onto the court and helps us learn.”
Senior Parrish Robart, Wolfe’s doubles partner, agrees.
“He has that connection that the previous coaches never had,” Robart said. “None of those previous coaches in the last ten years worked inside the school.”
Golzynski has taught sophomore social studies at Lansing Catholic for six years, meaning, he had every member of his team in his classroom except this year’s freshmen.
“I’m just extending the culture from what we have in the school to out here on the court,” Golzynski said. “I want to improve their skills with what I can and bring in people to help if I am not able to do that.”
The tennis program consists of 24 players; 12 on varsity and 12 on junior varsity.
“I’m really happy with it,” Golzynski said. “I’ve got guys who have never played before August who I think are going to stick with it for their whole four years.”
Wolfe said that the junior varsity team is one of the largest Lansing Catholic has seen in years.
“If they continue to stick with it and play, I think we’ll have a good program for years to come,” said Wolfe.
Before Golzynski, Lansing Catholic tennis was strictly divided in practice and match settings between varsity and junior varsity. Golzynski has changed that.
“We are the Lansing Catholic tennis team,” Golzynski said. “We practice all together, we play all together, we travel all together and we’re there supporting everybody. That’s something we’re going to do this year and going to continue as long as I’m the coach.”
Not just Golzynski thinks that the combining everyone has helped the program strengthen and grow.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t really have much confidence in the team coming in,” Robart said. “But once I started seeing how the team is playing together, all our chemistry, I feel I’m a lot more confident in what can happen this year.”
Golzynski has seen improvement every day since the season started just over a month ago.
“I think we’ve surprised a lot of people because we lost a lot of seniors from last year,” said Wolfe. “We have three freshmen that have stepped up and are on Varsity this year, along with a lot of the guys from last year that have stepped up to bigger roles this year.”
Improvements aren’t just seen on the court.
“No one’s treated differently,” Golzynski said. “The seniors don’t treat the underclassmen any differently. They’re all teammates.”
Wolfe said that when he sees his teammates outside of school or tennis, “it’s like we’re a family.”
The Cougars just passed the halfway point of their season. They are currently unbeaten in league play.
“I feel pretty good about where we are right now,” Golzynski said. “Lansing Catholic will be very competitive in the league and heading into the state tournament I believe.”
Lansing Catholic has their league tournament on Oct. 4, then moving to regional tournament the week after that. The state finals are Oct. 19-20.
“We have goals to do well in all those areas and get to the state finals,” Golzynski said. “We’re on that path right now.”