From Dreams to Reality – Mert Oral Reflects On His Tennis Journey


Annie Stone '23

Oral prepares to hit his trademark forehand slice, which helped propel him to secure the regional title in One Singles. He went on to win that regional finals match 6-0 6-0, ultimately helping his team to win the regional championship. “It was a goal [to win Regionals] that the whole team had been working towards,” he said.

Sophia Rich '23, Sports Staff


In his time as a tennis coach, Mark Randolph said he has never seen a player who has embraced the true values of tennis like Mert Oral ‘22. 

The longtime Greenhills tennis coach knew Oral was gifted a few years ago when he was just starting off his journey on the men’s tennis team. Now, in a little less than a year, he’ll be seeing his star player play his first match in a University of Michigan uniform.

Oral started playing tennis when he was five years old. At first, it was no more than just another activity; in fact, he only started playing because his older brother did. Now he joins the handful of Greenhills athletes to commit to a D1 athletic program. 

“It was always a dream [to play tennis at Michigan]. For a long time I didn’t think it was possible,” Oral said. “I had some good results entering high school, and then I realized that college tennis may actually be a realistic possibility, and that’s when the goal of Michigan tennis came a lot more into focus.”

Oral has quickly become the center of attention in the Greenhills community ever since his athletic commitment to Michigan was officially announced. 

“When the offer from Michigan came in, it was really hard to resist, it’s been a dream for such a long time,” said Oral. 

Oral grew up in Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan campus is located . His contact with current Michigan Tennis coach, Adam Steinberg, has helped to cultivate a relationship with the entire tennis program at Michigan, making the whole recruitment process a lot smoother.

“The current Michigan coach had his eye on Mert for quite some time. He sees another level or two in Mert that Mert himself can see, and it’s truly exciting,” said Randolph.

The Greenhills tennis program has been known for its regional and even statewide successes, but it’s not often you see a Greenhills athlete commit to play a sport at an institution such as the University of Michigan.

“Greenhills has not been known to produce division one athletic talent. We’ve done it some but not often,” said Randolph. “We’ve had a number of players who could have played D1 but have chosen to focus on academics instead, and that’s fine too. We’re always glad when we can send someone to the highest levels, but what we really want is people to integrate tennis into their entire life, and that is exactly what Mert has done.”

Aside from Oral’s time spent playing national tennis tournaments with the United States Tennis Association (USTA), he has dedicated a lot of his time to the Greenhills’ men’s tennis team.

“We just love spending time with each other,” said Oral. “The season is the highlight of the year. We practice hard everyday, then fight like hell for each other during matches, and then after, regardless of what happens, we just go out to eat and just have a good time being together.”

Oral has taken on a leadership role this year, being named captain of the team. 

“It’s definitely different being a senior. I was the only freshman on the team, so I was used to being the young guy and coasting along and enjoying things and worrying about playing without having any of the leadership responsibilities. This year I’ve had to step up and lead by example. It’s been a great learning experience,” said Oral.

His teammates have taken to his leadership style, and embraced him as captain. 

“Mert is a really good tennis player, but more importantly he’s a great leader,” said Arjun Prabhakar ‘23, a member of the tennis team. “Seeing Mert play at such a high level encourages us to work that much harder.” 

Oral recently acquired  his fourth individual state championship the rest of the season, leading the Greenhills Men’s Tennis  team to a Division III win. Following his last high school season, Oral will be able to focus on preparing for the Michigan season ahead.