This fall, the St. Francis Prep girls’ tennis team captured the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) team championship. The Terriers put together a dominant season which saw the team go undefeated and claim not only the Long Island Catholic title, but the State Catholic title as well.
To go undefeated, a team has to receive contributions up- and-down the lineup, and one key cog in the Terriers’ success was Abigail Eisenberg. The sophomore played the third singles flight for her team and delivered match-in-and-match-out, going unbeaten in singles play throughout the season.
“I could not have asked for better teammates. It was amazing to watch everyone grow on and off the court,” said Eisenberg. “This season really brought us closer together. Tennis is an individual sport but having my team cheering for me from behind the gate really gave me the confidence to push myself further. Their positivity and encouraging nature is unsurpassable; we learned from each other and grew together.”
Eisenberg’s tennis journey is one that did not begin all that long ago. She only started playing tennis back in 2017, when she attended a sleepaway camp where tennis was one of the activities offered. She was a basketball player prior to that, but was immediately bitten by the tennis bug after that first experience.
Adding to that was a trip to the U.S. Open later that summer, and from there Eisenberg was fully hooked on tennis.
“That fall, my mom got me my first tennis racket. She would take me to the public courts to play for fun, and over the next few years I would play a couple of times a month including taking lessons here and there,” she recalls. “I was still playing basketball at this time, because I was better at it than tennis, but in the summer of 2020, after graduating eighth grade, I really began to take tennis seriously.”
That summer, she began feverishly playing on the public courts near where she lived, and developed the goal of trying to make the varsity team at St. Francis Prep. She knew it would be a difficult task, for someone who was still relatively new to the game to compete, especially at a high school always known to be good at tennis. But Eisenberg was determined, and embraced the challenge of the goal she set for herself.
Eisenberg then tried out in her freshman year. She made the team and competed at second doubles. Continuing that hard work, she then moved up to the third singles spot this past season as a sophomore, and helped guide her team to a dominant fall campaign.
“Tennis forced me out of my comfort zone, and taught me how to focus,” Eisenberg says. “Learning to be mentally tough helped build my confidence both on and off the court. The game does not just make me a better player, it makes me a better version of myself, a version I really like.”
Eisenberg’s tennis path is proof that there is no one approach to becoming a tennis player, and is a testament to her passion for the game and her desire to continue to improve. Much of that comes from her time training at Generation Next Tennis, and with her coach Marvin Jeffrey, who is her first and only tennis coach.
“Generation Next Tennis is great. I love the atmosphere, the facility, everything,” said Eisenberg. “Everyone here is positive, passionate and willing to help you get better. They genuinely want to see you be the best that you can be. There is a family- like feel here that I really love.”
Together, Eisenberg and Jeffrey have developed a successful coach-player partnership, and Eisenberg credits her improvements to the work they do together.
“We practice at least once a week, and most times more. As I am playing more matches now, I am focused on more of my mental toughness and consistency on the court,” she said. “I’m trying to correct those silly mistakes, and also improve my second serve...There can be a misconception about coaches that they only provide support for physical growth, but this is far from the truth. Marvin has taught me that if my head isn’t in the game, then my physical abilities wouldn’t matter. And on days that I doubted myself, he has reminded me of the vision, and that I am capable of doing more and being more.”
Jeffrey is a high performance coach at Generation Next Tennis, which was formerly New York Tennis at Great Neck, and has been thrilled with the progress he has seen in Eisenberg over the last couple of years.
The next step in the development is to prepare her for tournament play, and continue working on how to approach matches.
“Our main focus now is working on making Abigail a tournament-level player, and improving things like game planning and match strategies,” said Jeffrey. “She has come a long way in only a couple of years, and continues to get better. She has a good forehand and backhand, and can really zip around the court with good speed. The goal is to keep getting her ranking up and I’m excited to see what’s in store for her.”
Between many honors classes she takes at St. Francis Prep and her tennis training, Eisenberg has a busy schedule, but still enjoys playing basketball, and spending time with her family and friends.
She has aspirations of playing college tennis in a couple of years, and is ready to put in the necessary work in order to achieve that. Her rapid progress over the last couple of years are indicators of someone who is poised to continue improving, and her love for the sport will be the motivating factor driving her work ethic.
“That’s what I love about tennis, the challenge of challenging yourself to be better, and working hard and seeing the results of your hard work,” she said. “The results may not always be winning, but it brings you closer to where you want to be.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.