Steps In at Last Minute
By Ted Waddell
LIBERTY June 27, 2000 -- For the Liberty boys varsity tennis
team, this season came down to the wire. Not in the
traditional sense in which a team battles to the end, but
as in it was a season that almost didnt happen.
On April 4 just three days before Liberty Central
School athletic director Tim Bult feared he would have to
cancel the tennis season because he didnt have a
coach veteran tennis pro/teacher Bill Van Keuren
stepped up to the net and said he would give it a shot.
According to Bult, he was helped in his quest for a last
minute coach by Steve White, tennis pro at the Concord
Resort Hotel in Kiamesha Lake.
Newspaper ads didnt work, nor did flyers stuck into
Calls to friends in the game didnt work out either
for the athletic director. Things were looking pretty
grim until Bult started calling teaching pros at local
tennis resorts and Van Keuren answered their cry for
The Indians savior for this seasons tennis
program was born in Atlantic City, and learned to play on
red clay at an early age.
At Barringer High School in Newark, he was seeded number
one on the high school team. After playing tennis in
college, Van Keuren started working at tennis part-time
while teaching music. Since the mid-80s, he was been
teaching tennis as a professional.
Van Keuren was a pro at the Concord Resort Hotel for 14
years (1984-98). Last year, he served as head pro and
director of the tennis program at Hidden Valley Resort, a
small resort in North Jersey. This summer, Van Keuren
will be director of tennis at Eddy Farm Resort in Sparrowbush.
After 25 years in the game, Van Keuren said
half-seriously, Ive made a million bucks
hitting a ball around. Its a lot better than a real
Generally speaking, this team has a lot of
potential, he said in evaluating the Liberty
program. Its raw potential because they
really havent had much coaching or instruction on
how to play. Theyre great athletes and good
His view of the future?
If theyd commit themselves to the sport on a
full-time basis, and not just through the three-month
long tennis season, they would be competitive with any
other team in the league.
Its a very young team, and we need guys to
back them up, added Van Keuren. If one guy
misses, we forfeit a match.
Van Keurens coaching philosophy in a nutshell:
Its my job to nurture their interest in the
sport, make sure theyre having a good time and
teach them sportsmanship.
Noting there is a fine line between instruction and
coaching, he added, The kids need to start thinking
about their strokes rather than playing the points.
uChris Winters first singles, junior: A
great athlete, but a little rough because he hasnt
had much instruction or experience. Played some pretty
has done well because of his
uGarry Bertholf second singles, sophomore:
He loves the sport, you cant get him off the
court. A great athlete. Its a matter of building
his arsenal, especially his backhand and service
uRahul Marjan third singles, sophomore:
has shown tremendous
improvement. Needs to know how to hit the ball better and
needs work on stroke production.
uA.J. Gill fourth singles, freshman: Another
potentially great player. Hes got that tennis
build, the interest and the desire. Has some really good
strokes already, but needs to develop more consistent
service and gamesmanship.
uJaycob Burns first doubles, sophomore: Good
showing an interest in coming down to Eddy Farm
this summer to take lessons so he can improve his game.
Has taken lessons from Pravin Singh, one of the great
teachers in the area.
uJay Champlin first doubles, junior: Great
athlete, but not much coaching behind him. Knows how to
win points, but a little rough with his technique. Needs
a little more experience.
uVincent Hahn and George Tiscalos second doubles,
seniors: Not much instruction behind them, but
steady players. Played a very good second doubles
position this year.
uIan Olsen third doubles, eighth grader: An
up and coming star. Needs to grow strengthwise and with
his speed. Needs to learn how to compose himself a little
better on the court.
uTom Trelor third doubles, sophomore: A lot
of potential. A good athlete
likes the game a
uAdrian Ponce. Also came out for the team.
Absolutely no playing experience, but a fun kid to have
around. Hes been there for some exhibitions and
really supports the team.