Alex Klibisz back after year in Germany

Alex Klibisz back after year in Germany

Cleveland, Tennessee, tennis champion performs for the Red Raider tennis program

May 21st, 2012 by Gene Henley in Sports - Preps

Alex Klibisz, a tennis player for Cleveland High School, plays a match on Friday, April 20, 2012, at Standifer Gap Tennis Courts during the Big Bang Tennis Tournament.

Alex Klibisz, a tennis player for Cleveland High...

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Times Free Press.

Individual State Tournament Participants

Class A/AA Boys Singles

Jackson Lenoir, Arts & Sciences

Class A/AA Boys Doubles

Ian Derthick and Raymond Kim, Arts & Sciences

Forrest Hooten and Adam Wolfe, Signal Mountain

Class A/AA Girls Singles

Taylor Johnson, East Hamilton

Class A/AA Girls Doubles

Emily Brown and Taylor Eades, Boyd-Buchanan

Ellie Henry and Hannah Henry, Chattanooga Christian

Class AAA Boys Singles

Alex Klibisz, Cleveland

Class AAA Boys Doubles

Zach Madewell and Nick McWherter, Rhea County

Division II-A Girls Singles

Sadie Shackelford, St. Andrew's-Sewanee

Division II-AA Boys Singles

Anderson Scarpa, Baylor

Division II-AA Boys Doubles

Bobby Brouner and Daniel Pare, McCallie

Marko Mandic and Eric Roddy, Baylor

Bo Brynteson and Jackson Pride, Baylor

Division II-AA Girls Singles

Michelle Fleenor, GPS

Samantha Caswell, Baylor

Danielle Simms, GPS

Division II-AA Girls Doubles

Harper Caswell and Mary Walker Mixon, Baylor

Maggie Crumbliss and McCall Morgan, Baylor

Emma McCallie and Hannah Morrow, GPS

Brighton Goodhue and Mary Claire Spann, GPS

Throughout the course of the 2012 tennis season, Cleveland's Alex Klibisz used the element of surprise against some opponents that might not have remembered him the last time he played a match for the Raider tennis program.

Two years is a pretty long time.

Klibisz was able to claim the District 5-AAA and Region 3-AAA individual titles, qualifying for state in the process. He has a tough road ahead, however, as he will face two-time defending Class AAA champion Sean Karl of Ravenwood in the state quarterfinals of the Spring Fling tournament Thursday at Old Fort.

After playing No. 3 singles as a freshman and No. 2 as a sophomore at Cleveland, the senior spent the 2010-2011 school year participating in the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange Program, which sent him to Germany for 13 months.

"It was extremely beneficial," he said. "I got to experience a whole new part of the world and was able to learn the German language. I can now speak German fluently, but I was also fortunate to meet a lot of people, and those friendships can last a lifetime.

"It was definitely my most memorable year of high school."

After his sophomore season, Klibisz worked on his game some, and with the help of retired coach Charlie Smith -- who coached two-time winner of the Rotary and three-time state champion and former Vanderbilt standout Eddie Coates at Bradley Central -- changed his stroke.

"I wasn't training as much as some of the top players were, because I didn't want tennis to take away from the year abroad," Klibisz said. "When I got back, there might have been some advantages in that people hadn't seen me, but I don't think that made much of a difference.

"The biggest difference is the coaching I got from coach Smith and doing a lot of conditioning with the coaches at Cleveland."

Klibisz has suffered only one loss this season -- to Arts & Sciences's Jackson Lenoir -- and admits that at times, this year, he's "surprised himself in how well he's played." He made the state tournament his goal at the beginning of the year, and will realize that goal when he faces off against Karl on Thursday.

"I saw him play at the Tennessee State Qualifier two years ago, and it was like his regular shots were just as good as my best shot," Klibisz said. "I do realize that this could be the end, but I'm pretty relaxed because all of the pressure's on him. I've already exceeded my expectations, and anything from this point on makes the season even better.

"I'm where I want to be [in the state tournament], and although it'll be difficult for sure, I hope to be as relaxed then as I am now."