Steve Krulevitz, Gilman School

by Nelson Coffin

Continuing — and adding to — a tradition of success at Gilman was Steve Krulevitz’s mission at Gilman, which has accumulated 14 tennis championships in the now-defunct Maryland Scholastic Association (1958-1993) before claiming 13 more in the MIAA A Conference since 1994.

Krulevitz, VSN’s Tennis Coach of the Decade, has simply burnished that legacy by guiding the Greyhounds to an unprecedented seven consecutive A Conference banners in just nine years at the helm.

Although its 72-match winning streak was halted this season by upstart Severn, Gilman nevertheless powered to the championship by beating the Admirals, 4-1, in the finals this spring.

After starring at Park School, Steve Krulevitz went on to become a tennis All-American at UCLA before playing professionally for 10 years.

That, however, was nothing compared to the way the Greyhounds topped Loyola Blakefield in the 2016 finals, which went down to the wire and were eventually completed on a Sunday after rainy weather forced a couple of delays.

In the end, Will Rende edged Loyola’s Grayson White in a match featuring two tiebreakers after the No. 3 singles battle was halted at 3-3 in the last set due to darkness on a Friday.

“It was about 8 p.m.,” Krulevitz said. “And the Loyola boy was cramping. We decided to postpone the match until Sunday. Will had lost to him in a duel meet, so there was a lot of pressure. It was crazy. It was really a memorable watch.”

Krulevitz knows firsthand about winning championships, something he did individually four times for Park School in the MSA before becoming an All-American player at UCLA for the Pac 10 champion Bruins and subsequently competing on the pro tour for 10 years, including all four Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon, the US Open, the Australian Open and the French Open).

His coaching style is as much about teaching togetherness as it is about teaching technique.

“Steve brings a lot of experience to his coaching,” said Derrick Thompson, VSN’s Boys Tennis Player of the Decade. “He really teaches the team aspect of tennis. He gave me a different perspective about what it means to be part of something bigger.”

Krulevitz, who has won over 100 matches at Gilman, admits to being demanding at times, although “not in a negative way. I can be tough without degrading anyone.”

To make a point, he said that he’s been known to ask his players if they are “out here to do something or just out here to have something to do?”

Yet that’s about as much tough love as the 2019 Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame inductee gives the Greyhounds.

“I try to keep things positive as much as I can,” he said.

Despite his father’s desire for him to play golf, Krulevitz gravitated toward tennis and became a state amateur champ at 15.

His lifelong passion for the sport that began on the red clay courts at Druid Hill Park and evolved into competing at the highest level also gave Krulevitz the impetus for writing a memoir of his career, “Lightning Strikes: The Life and Times of a Professional Tour Tennis Player,” that was published in 2017.

VSN’s Boys Tennis Player of the Decade: Derrick Thompson, 2018, Gilman School