Veteran coaches return to Baldwin tennis


Natalie Zgurich

New tennis coaches Tom Kirk (left) and Dave Shenefelt (right) prepare to feed tennis balls to players in warm-ups. The coaches hope to lead their team to playoffs this season.

Arlen Hooks, Sports Editor

For many students, an essential part of summer vacation is staying up late and then sleeping until noon.
But sophomore tennis standout Bethany Yauch spent her mornings on the court, practicing under the guidance of Thomas Kirk, her grandfather — and now Baldwin’s new boys tennis coach.
Kirk learned the game of tennis at the age of 7 from his father, and he believes the lessons he learned were vital to pass on to his own children and grandchildren.
“Tennis teaches so many beneficial qualities that will give players mental toughness on and off the court,” Kirk said.
Along with Kirk, junior varsity coach Dave Shenefelt is making a return. He was also a coach previously for the Baldwin tennis program.
Kirk was an assistant coach on the girls team last season and has head coaching experience at West Allegheny. He taught clinics in the Baldwin area for decades and ultimately credits the community and his granddaughter as the main reason for taking the job.
“Bethany has been involved with Baldwin tennis for her whole life. The season was about to start, and the team still didn’t have anyone. I wasn’t going to let the kids down,” Kirk said.
Kirk helped coach Yauch to a WPIAL appearance her freshman year and a state ranking of sixth. She attributes her success to Kirk’s guidance
“Ever since I can remember, he has always been pushing me to do my best. He invests so much time helping me learn and develop my game when he could be doing a lot of other things. I can’t thank him enough and I think he’s going to make a great coach,” Yauch said.
This is Baldwin’s third coach in four seasons. The team missed the playoffs by one match the past two years. Kirk has some experience with a few of the players on the team. He said consistency and limiting errors will be a key focus for everyone on the team.
“The game is still somewhat new to a lot of the guys. We have to try and hit as many balls as possible every day and get them comfortable.
Baldwin will be led by seniors Nick Regel, Jacob Lombardi, and Chad Kelley, along with underclassmen Remy Davic and Hunter Kozlowski.
‘Making the playoffs would be great experience for everyone. I’d love for the seniors to make playoffs for the first time and let the younger guys experience playing under that kind of pressure,” Kirk said.