Hublitz credits tennis career to his No. 1 fan: his dad

McLeod Brown | Sports Editor

Midway through his second season on the UNC Wilmington men’s tennis team, sophomore Zach Hublitz has begun to solidify himself as one of the squad’s top performers.

Playing solely at the No. 6 seed last year during his freshman season, Hublitz compiled a 4-2 singles record, including wins during matches against ranked opponents No. 33 Memphis and No. 21 N.C. State.

The native of McLean, Va. has only gotten better this year, elevating himself to playing primarily in the No. 5 slot on the team, where he earned a flawless 5-0 mark while dropping two games in the No. 6 seed.

This early success should not come as a surprise, though, as Hublitz has played tennis since an early age when his father, a former pro, encouraged him to pick up the sport.

“My dad played college tennis, then started playing on the Pro Tour for a little and did pretty well,” Hublitz said. “It’s kind of always been in the family. My mom and dad both played at George Washington University. He took me out on the courts when I was about two and a half and we’ve never stopped.”

Hublitz’s father, Marty, is a former No. 1 player on the Colonials who went on to coach his alma mater for four years, including two conference championships. The elder Hublitz also won the VA State Men’s Championship in 2004.

With so much tennis success in the family, it seemed Zach Hublitz was destined to achieve many victories in his own right, as well. It did not hurt that he was coached by his father for much of his high school career.

“It was fun being coached by my dad,” Hublitz said. “My freshman year, he was kind of a volunteer helping out and then the coaches just made him the head coach the next year, so I had him for three years. He’s always been my personal coach so it wasn’t that much different.”

Hublitz left a dominant legacy at The Potomac School in McLean, Va., where he was a three-time First-Team All-State and captained the 2011 Virginia State champions, the first Divison I state championship in any sport for the school, while playing at the No. 1 seed and finishing with a 30-1 singles record his senior year.

The state championship earned the team a spot in the national tournament, played in California, where the team finished No. 7.

His near-perfect high school record allowed Hublitz to become one of the top 120 recruits in the nation, earning him offers from numerous programs nationwide. After visiting Wilmington, though, he knew where he wanted to call home for the next four years.

“I was looking at a mix of Division III and Division I,” Hublitz said. “There was something when I came here to Wilmington. I liked the campus and I liked the style of the school. I kind of like how it’s a laid-back community, everyone is really relaxed. I really like the style Coach (Mait) DuBois has. He’s very intense on the court, but he still jokes off the court. He’s here to watch you improve and he really cares about his players.”

The transition from high school to Divison I tennis was anything but easy for Hublitz, however, as he was pushed through rigorous training before even competing in a match.

“I thought I was in good shape and I clearly wasn’t,” he said. “The first eight weeks were rough. But after that, I noticed I was fitter and it really helps your tennis if you don’t have to worry about getting tired. I remember calling my dad saying, ‘This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.’ It was such a mental challenge, too, because you had to do it every day for so many weeks for your body to get accustomed to it.”

During his freshman year, Hublitz showed his ability to succeed on the court against weaker opponents, while also coming through during important matches as well.

“My first season was memorable,” he said. “I had one of my best wins I think against NC State. It came down to my match, in the third set, and I beat him 6-0. It was a cool moment knowing I pulled through for the team.”

As with any sport though, Hublitz recognized there is always room for improvement. While he has advanced to playing primarily the No. 5 seed this season, he is also looking to further his skill on the court, hoping to ascend even higher on the squad.

“I’d say my style of play was pretty defensive freshman year,” Hublitz said. “I just made a ton of balls and it was more of a war of nutrition, wearing your opponent down. I’m still working on it, but I’ve been transitioning to more of an all-court player who can attack when he needs to, play defensive when he needs to, but then come in and finish the point at the net.”

Win or lose, Hublitz knows his biggest fan is always there to support him, giving him advice whenever he needs it.

“I talk to my dad after every match I play,” he said. “Whenever I go home, he’s still coaching me and stuff. He’s so positive about it and he’s always looking up rankings and scores of everyone else. I try to tell him to keep that to himself because I don’t want to know about that as much, but he’s really into it so that’s definitely good.

“He stays really positive through everything. If I’m in the lineup or if I’m not in the lineup, he just tells me to keep working as hard as you can and you’ll get that opportunity eventually.”