Athlete of the Week: Weber enjoyed helping Polytech become winners

Polytech High senior Blake Weber reached the Henlopen Conference tournament finals at first singles a year ago. Submitted photos

(EDITOR’S NOTE: With the high school spring sports season canceled, we’re going to continue our Athlete of the Week feature with a little different format. We’re going to recognize a downstate senior athlete by sport for their career accomplishments. This week, Polytech High’s Blake Weber won our readers’ poll for boys’ tennis.)

WOODSIDE — Blake Weber didn’t go to Polytech High despite the fact that the Panthers were mediocre in tennis.

He went there partly because they were mediocre.

As a middle schooler in the Caesar Rodney School District, he liked the idea of trying to make a difference.

“I figured, if I go to CR, I’ll just be in the shadows of everybody else,” said Weber. “I wanted to go somewhere to put someone up on the map and build a program.”

Three years later, it’s fair to say that Weber accomplished his goal.

With Weber playing first singles all three seasons, Polytech eventually built its way up to a program-best 11-1 record last spring. The Panthers’ 9-5 mark the year before was the first winning season in school history.

And with Weber one of six seniors on this year’s roster, Polytech’s players were excited to see what they could accomplish this season.

“We were all looking forward to this year,” said Panthers’ coach Laura Reisinger. “He (Weber) and several of his close friends were all on the team together. We had such a solid team and so he was pumped and excited for this season and ready to be a leader in all that. … This was going to be a great ending to his career at Polytech.

“He always made it a team effort,” said the fifth-year coach. “If people started to get too individually focused, he would definitely try to pull them back around and say, ‘Hey, this is what we need for the team.’ He’s always been like that.”

“I was just pushing the guys and trying to get them to have the right mindset,” said Weber. “I take it took seriously sometimes and I’m too hard on them. … (But) when we hit 11-1 last year, I was like, ‘Wow, these guys really grew up in front of me.’”

As the program’s most experienced player, Weber became something of an assistant coach to his teammates.

The 18-year-old Magnolia resident got pretty serious about tennis when he was nine. Both his parents, Nancy and Brett, as well as his grandfather played the sport.

“I used to play baseball when I was a young kid but then I decided it was too boring so I started playing tennis,” said Weber, who went to the Lake Forest School District in grade school.

Weber, whose older brother Brennan played for Polytech, has taken lessons from Rex Williamson for most of his career as well as playing at Sea Colony.

Weber accepted the DTSA team sportsmanship award for the Polytech tennis squad.

Like the team, Weber’s individual record got better over the last three seasons. He went from 7-7, to 9-5 to 9-3 during the regular season.

Last year, Weber reached the Henlopen Conference finals at first singles before falling to CR’s Rishi Gundakaram, the state runnerup. With state champion Robby Ward of Tower Hill and Gundakaram graduating, the battle for the individual state championship looked fairly wide open this season.

“After getting to the Henlopen finals, it just opened my eyes,” said Weber. “All the hard work kind of paid off.

“The field (this year) was completely open. All the guys I looked up to, they’re gone now. It was all level. For me, it just made me work 10 times harder getting ready for the season.

“I thought, this was an opportunity you can’t just pass up.”

Weber still has his whole life ahead of him to play tennis, of course. He’s going to Delaware Tech in the fall and hoping to make the University of Delaware’s club team.

Weber also wants to get into coaching, probably at the high school level.

So he tries to be philosophical about not playing his senior season because of the coronvirus pandemic.

“You’ve got to control the things that you can control,” said Weber. “The world doesn’t revolve around high school sports so it’s not that big of a problem. But I was definitely upset. I just look forward to getting better and playing in college.”

Now that his high school career is over, Weber is still glad he decided to go to Polytech. He hopes he and his teammates brought a little more respect to the program.

“It made me into the person I am today because it was just like non-stop work that I had to put in,” said Weber. “It was worth everything.”

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