Freshman Jesus Aispuro, sophomore Avinash Krishna and junior Max Kemnitz warm up for practice. In the background, assistant coach Gary Jakobs and coach Chris Millsback discuss the baseball schedule. (Photo by Emma Boersma)

Tennis team gains girls; bigger baseball team loses star player

The good news for Country Day is 20 players signed up for the tennis team and 18 for the baseball team.

The bad news is there’s a large gender imbalance in tennis, and the baseball team has already lost several players.

The tennis team (2-1) has 16 girls and four boys, according to senior Leonardo Eisner.

“That’s fantastic for filling up the girl categories, but we are lacking in the ability to fill up all of the boy categories,” said Eisner, who plays No. 1 boys singles. “I’m worried that some of the girls will get bored and drop out because some won’t be able to play any matches.”

The baseball team (0-2) has 15 players, including one girl (junior Savannah Rosenzweig).

Senior Nate Jakobs, who batted .571 last year with a 1.476 slugging percentage and .710 on-base percentage, will miss the season after hurting his left knee in a skiing accident. 

“When I asked who was actually serious about playing on the team, about three or four people got up and left,” baseball coach Chris Millsback said. “I’ve also had a couple of people talk with me privately to say that they’re not going to be able to play.”

Last year, the tennis team had 14 players, while the baseball team had just 12. However, these numbers were often lower at games due to conflicts with other activities.

According to Jakobs and Eisner, because most other schools have larger teams, Country Day is often at a disadvantage.

For baseball, most other teams had 14 to 16 players last season; meanwhile, Valley Christian Academy had around 20, and Alpha Charter — the section champion — had well over 20 players, according to Jakobs.

“Almost all big Division I-III private schools and public school varsity teams have 20 to 25 players,” Jakobs said. “Those schools also have JV and sometimes freshman teams with around 15 players.”

High school tennis competitions consist of the best-of-nine matches: two in boys singles, boys doubles, girls singles and girls doubles and one in mixed doubles. Players are limited to one match each.

Unlike Country Day, most section teams have enough players to fill the lineup plus a few backups, according to Eisner.

“We had to forfeit almost all our match days (last year),” Eisner said. “(However), it doesn’t matter too much because tennis is not a team sport like most other sports. We are all part of the same group but advance and play independently.”

Jakobs agreed the size of Country Day’s team usually affects its performance.

“(Last year) we had 12 players, but for most games only 10 to 11 came,” Jakobs said. “Pretty often, we’re missing a key piece due to a band concert, drama recital, paste-up or other extracurricular conflict. 

“The hole that a player leaves can often be the difference in winning and losing against teams comparable to us.”

According to Eisner, 16 players — eight boys and eight girls — is the ideal team size because it fills the singles and doubles lineups and leaves a backup of each gender in case someone can’t play.

Jakobs said the ideal baseball team size is 25, the largest allowed. But since such a big team would bench most players, he continued, 14 or more would suffice.

“We’ll start practice with 14 or 15, all of whom I hope will stick with it,” Jakobs said last month. “But usually we lose a few players before our first game who realize they don’t want to play or have other commitments. Hopefully we’ll have better turnouts for games. 

“The 13th player may not seem like a big difference when compared to the 12th, but it’s a 33 percent increase in potential substitutes.”

Jakobs said he will need six to 12 weeks of physical therapy for his MCL injury. If his knee is still unstable after physical therapy, which would indicate more significant ACL damage than expected, Jakobs will need surgery, which would take approximately a year of rehabilitation.

However, Jakobs still assists with coaching. During practice, he will help players improve their skills and mental game; during games, he’ll coach first or third base.

The baseball team’s next game is scheduled for Friday, March 22, at 4 p.m. against Western Sierra at Westwood Park. 

The tennis team’s next match is set for Thursday, March 21, at 4 p.m. at Encina.

By David Situ

Originally published in the March 19 edition of the Octagon.

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