Sweat beading down his face and sprinting from court to court with a neon stringed racket. This is likely the scene during a Jeremy Feldman tennis practice. Feldman, newly hired men’s tennis coach for the Charlotte 49ers, can often be found and heard at practice working just as hard as the boys that he’s coaching.
“Motivated and focused,” said Carl Solik, describing his new head coach. “There are coaches that do not want to spend as much time as him on the court. He’s just really motivated in making us better.”
Feldman inherited a very young team when he was hired on June 21 of this year, with eight underclassman, something that the head coach embraces as a strength in his young coaching career.
“With being so close in age to the players, I understand what these guys are going through,” said Feldman.
Feldman was once in his players’ shoes, but before his playing time at Cornell, he was once just a young boy trying to have a fun 10th birthday party with his friends and family.
“I had a tennis birthday party, embarrassingly enough, for my 10th birthday,” said Feldman. “The pros there at the time were watching me play and they went up to my parents and told them I had a little bit of talent and potential. From then on, I started to pursue tennis and that’s how I got my start.”
The young Feldman found early success on the court, but there was a moment where Feldman didn’t know if his size would catch up to his competitors.
“I went through a bit of a slump when I was playing 16-under tennis. I didn’t grow until I was about 17 years old, so all the other guys were a lot bigger than me. I was physically outmatched for a bit, but I eventually got there.”
Once Feldman’s game continued to impress in his high school days, college coaches started to pay attention to him. Nearby Cornell University was one of those schools that caught Feldman’s eye.
“Visiting the school and the university, it was a very beautiful place. I actually knew a lot of the guys on the Cornell team prior to my visit, so that helped in my decision as well,” said Feldman. “I knew they had a great academic reputation. I felt like there was an opportunity for me to do something special there.”
Feldman definitely did something special at Cornell.
He went on to become the 2008 Ivy League Rookie of the Year after an undefeated singles record in conference play. Feldman also earned a 2010 first-team All-Ivy league doubles selection.
After his stellar playing career at Cornell and graduating with a degree in economics, Feldman went on to work on Wall Street. While he enjoyed his time staying in New York, Feldman knew he had something more to give to the game of tennis.
“I never really thought about coaching, even in college. The only person who thought I could be a coach was my mom. I always told her that I didn’t know if I could and she always told me I should do it,” said Feldman. “I guess mom knows best.”
Trying to get back into the game he loved, Feldman got in contact with his old coach at Cornell, Tony Bresky, who got hired as the head coach for Wake Forest. Bresky brought Feldman down to Wake as a volunteer coach for the 2012-2013 season. After getting his feat wet with the Demon Deacons, Feldman found a spot as an assistant for the University of Denver, where he coached for the 2013-2014 season.
Enjoying his time at Denver, Bresky and Wake came calling back to Feldman, with an assistant coach job on the line. Feldman accepted and went on to expose himself as one of the best assistant coaches around.
“I had a great experience at Wake,” said Feldman. “Coaching at that level, you see a lot of high-end tennis every day. We got to work with some really good players there. Got to learn from one of the best in Tony.”
After his successful stent with the Deacons, Charlotte came calling. This time though, wanting a head coach. Feldman quickly said yes to athletic director Judy Rose and became the 18th head coach in 49ers history.
“We are definitely trying to bring a lot from what I learned over at Wake to Charlotte,” said Feldman. “We are definitely looking for kids who have professional aspirations. In order to be successful, you have to strive to be the best. And to be the best, that is at the professional level.”
When asked about what he learned from his previous coaches at Denver and Wake, Feldman said, “Work ethic. Both were preaching to their players about preparation and what it took to be successful and also the time and effort they put in as their job as coach.”
The 49ers won’t start their regular season play until the spring, but Feldman, his assistant Andrew Thomson and the rest of the team are already putting in the hard work now so they can compete at a high level as soon as the season rolls around.
Assistant coach Thomson said, “He is really organized and cares about his players. He established a very disciplined and organized program and has already helped me transition to the Division I coaching level as well.”
Feldman sees this Charlotte tennis program going in the right direction and seeing nothing but a bright future if they can stick to the process.
“I mentioned to the guys at our opening meeting that our goals are to compete for conference championships and compete at the highest level nationally. We’re just going to stay focused on the process and getting better. I think if they understand that if they put everything that they have into everyday of practice, at the end of the year, we will be putting ourselves in a good spot.”