Five Seasons Tennis Player Nets USTA Midwest Player of the Year Laurels
- Name: Robert Stineman
- School or league: USTA Midwest
- Team: USTA Midwest
- Award: USTA Midwest Player of the Year
The good news keeps rolling in for Winnetka’s Robert Stineman, the defending Illinois High School Association singles tennis champion and one of the nation’s top high school tennis players.
Among the recent developments: he is the Wallace R. Holzman Sr. Award selection.
The award—essentially a Player of the Year honor—recognizes the outstanding 16- or 18-and-under age division male player from the USTA/Midwest Section for the highest standards of tennis accomplishments, character, conduct, sportsmanship and amateurism.
When his mother, Mary, reached him by phone with the news, Robert was in Mobile, Alabama where he was in the midst of advancing to the quarterfinals of the USTA Spring National Championships.
“It was a great end to the day,” Robert recalled. “I was ecstatic. Thinking of all the great players to have won the award, to be mentioned among that group is a real honor.”
Alongside Robert when he received the call was Jacek Dabrowski, Robert’s instructor for the past six years at Five Seasons Family Sports Club in Northbrook.
The Stineman family, as well as Tad Eckert, his coach at New Trier High School, all credit Dabrowski with playing an instrumental role in developing Robert’s play on the court and his demeanor off the court.
“Jacek has been just phenomenal and it’s been a real team effort,” said Tom Stineman, Robert’s father. “They have really worked cohesively with Robert in terms of scheduling with his workouts and tournament play. I can’t say enough about Five Seasons and their support of Robert, especially Jacek.”
“We’re really grateful,” added Mary Stineman, a tennis standout at New Trier herself. “It’s been fantastic, a great fit for him."
“Jacek is one of the best pros around. When you build a player like Robert Stineman, you’re obviously doing a lot of things right,” Eckert said. “Jacek’s been a great instructor.”
Through Robert’s training at Five Seasons—typically five times a week, for 1 ½ to 2 hours at a time—Dabrowski has devoted much of his attention to developing the technical aspects of Robert’s game, as well as helping him identify the aggressive serve-and-volley style as the approach best suited to his personality.
As Robert’s coach during high school action, Eckert has offered strategic counsel, especially during matches.
Of his Five Seasons coach, Robert said, “He’s done an excellent job. He’s really developed my game with a long-run attitude. I really owe a lot to him.”
Robert finished 2010 ranked 9th nationally in the 18-and-under class, and he’s since moved up to 4th. Meanwhile, he is rated at top-5 recruit at www.tennisrecruiting.net.
Only this past weekend, he was named Most Valuable Player of the Deco Turf High School Tennis Team Championships in Kentucky. In addition, his individual success helped spark team success, as New Trier placed first in the 16-team Class A division.
He will receive the Holzman Award at a USTA banquet in Carmel, Ind. on April 16.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder embodies the passionate pursuit of competiveness and sportsmanship. In fact, he’s been winning sportsmanship awards so routinely that it shouldn’t be a shock if some day a sportsmanship award is named in his honor.
Two cases in point: last August at the National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich., he reached the Round of 16—the only unseeded player to advance so far—and received the Wes Richards Memorial Award for sportsmanship.
And earlier in 2010, as the United States Tennis Association’s Chicago District Junior Player of the Year, Stineman won the Kevie Schwartz Award. The honor recognizes an outstanding junior boy for not only excellence on the tennis court, but also sportsmanship, academic success and community service.
Over the past two or three years, said Dabrowski, the key to Robert’s surge has been making the transition from being an all-court player to an attacking, aggressive, serve-and-volley style like pros Pete Sampras or Patrick Rafter.
And while some players have trouble converting their great practices into match play, Stineman has exhibited mental toughness on a par with professionals, said Dabrowski.
In November, Stineman decided to play at Stanford University. His studies will have a pre-med focus, in line with his interest in becoming a doctor. Meanwhile, a professional tennis career is also a distinct possibility.
In discussions with Dabrowski as they have observed Stineman play, nationally renowned coaches have pegged Stineman as a legitimate pro prospect.
“I’m just keeping all of my options open,” Robert said. “We’ll see how far my game takes me.”
In the near term, Robert is focusing on defending two state titles: his own singles championship and New Trier’s team title of May 2010, which halted Hinsdale Central High School’s three-year reign as state champs.
Five Seasons Family Sports Club is at 1300 Techny Road in Northbrook and online at http://www.facebook.com/FiveSeasonsNorthbrook.