It was at the age of five that freshman Danny Kerznerman first got attached to the game of tennis.
He used to tag along to his brother’s matches for fun. Then one day when Kerznerman was no longer considered too young, his parents asked if he wanted to play the sport himself. He said he remembered being so excited.
“That’s all I did my whole life,” he said. “I never really played any other organized sport. I never played on a team. I just played tennis. I just took off from there then.”
Kerznerman has competed in many ITF and international tennis tournaments, which allowed him to travel all over Europe, South America and the United States. He started with the USTA player development system then later trained in Boca Raton, Florida, at the USTA Training Center.
“[Alabama] is a whole new thing for me since I was out of school for so long just because I was traveling so much,” he said. “It’s different but it’s still amazing just having a team that supports you, all the coaches and resources from the school.”
Kerznerman’s parents came to the United States from Russia right before his brother was born. They didn’t speak a word of English at the time and lived with some relatives until his father got a job, Kerznerman said.
“It’s just a different culture, kind of coming from nothing,” he said. “It helped me a lot because I was always hungry to do something myself.”
Coach George Husack said he knows Kerznerman has always had to work hard for what he wants. He was small as a child so he’s always had to stay tough and show that he is a great tennis player, Husack said – he’s just as hard a worker as he was then.
The men’s tennis team has a tradition everyone participates in. On their birthdays, the players will get hit in the face with a whipped cream pie. It was during their time at the Blue Gray tournament that Kerznerman’s birthday tradition took place. There wasn’t any whipped cream lying around, but there was ice cream.
“That day they had unplugged the freezer so there was some melted ice cream,” Husack said. “We took a team picture and got him. He expected it, but he didn’t expect it to come at that point. He took it with great humor.”
Husack said he thinks Kerznerman has great character. His teammate Korey Lovett said he agreed since he and Kerznerman had every class last semester and most classes this semester together. The two also live together. They’ve never gotten into a fight since coming to school, Lovett said.
“He always calls me Kenny – it’s my dad’s name,” he said. “Or he’ll just call me 40 different names. I call him Donny sometimes – like, I scream it – and he gets embarrassed walking outside.”
Of course, when warming up together they’ll joke around and get in trouble, Lovett said.
Kerznerman and the rest of the Crimson Tide will travel to Arkansas for a Thursday matchup before returning home to host Ole Miss and Alabama State on Saturday at 1 and 5 p.m. respectively.