Top-ranked New Trier senior Max Bengtsson looking to stay healthy
New Trier senior, Northwestern commit Max Bengtsson looking to stay healthy
Max Bengtsson likes those sixes and sevens.
Those can get you wins on a tennis court.
The New Trier senior isn't infatuated by other numbers he's racked up, like his current No. 11 national ranking in the Class of 2021 by the Dunlop Ratings Power Index. One can find that on the Tennis Recruiting Network website. The Top 25 players are known as "blue chips."
Scrambling and battling injury provides humility.
"It wasn't too long ago that I was grinding it out," said Bengtsson, formerly of Glencoe, now living in Winnetka.
"I've always been more focused on tennis and developing my game rather than numbers. But, for me, it was a nice reassurance," said one of Illinois' top-ranked junior player.
Bengtsson committed to Northwestern in October of his junior year, and signed his letter of intent this past Nov. 11.
He had a Yale offer and scrapped planned visits to other Ivy League colleges after he decided to play for coach Arvid Swan and the Wildcats. Bengtsson, an ace student, liked Northwestern's combination of academics and athletics on a Big Ten schedule. He looks to study applied mathematics within Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, he said.
The last time he could compete in the Illinois High School Association state tennis tournament he finished fifth in Class 2A singles in 2019 as a sophomore. In 2018 Bengtsson finished among the top eight players. Both times New Trier was the team runner-up to perpetual power Hinsdale Central; the Trevians tied for second with Stevenson in 2018.
Each season Bengtsson struggled through the aftermath of a left shoulder injury suffered the winter of his freshman year. It wasn't the shoulder he uses to serve, but it affected his two-handed backhand.
"That was a massive thing, I didn't play for probably two months after that," he said.
During his sophomore year, repercussions from the injury had him withdraw for part of the season. When he returned it felt like he was playing catch-up, he said.
"Then when state came around that little bit of lack of playing time during the season yet again left me a little short," said Bengtsson, who outside of high school trains with his father, Mikael, and with Mark Bey at the Glenview Tennis Club.
After taking his only loss of the 2019 prep season to Hersey's Max Sheldon in the championship quarterfinals at Hersey, Bengtsson closed out his tournament with three straight wins.
"That showed a lot of resilience to come back after a close match and what he probably perceived as a disappointing loss," said New Trier coach Tad Eckert.
"I think we're all hopeful that we're going to get a chance to have a season and, more importantly for Max, to have a chance to win a team title and an individual singles title," Eckert said.
"I think really Max's career so far has been a little bit of missed opportunities. He was hurt both his freshman and sophomore years, so I'm not sure we've been able to develop the full Max Bengtsson in time for a state run. I think he's got a lot to play for if we're allowed to play in his senior season," Eckert said.
Bengtsson said his shoulder is now feeling all right. Until he can get outside or join his Trevian teammates in contact days, which were again reestablished for spring and summer athletes starting Jan. 25, he'll be getting ready.
"More training and working on my game, that's kind of been the main focus right now," he said.