The Brandeis men’s tennis team has recently had trouble filling its roster, causing it to violate the National Collegiate Athletic Association's tennis policies. With only five people on the roster, the team has had to forfeit matches, as the required NCAA player count is a minimum of six players. Tommy Harrison ’26, a former member of the Brandeis men’s tennis team, sat down with The Justice on April 11 to explain the circumstances that have contributed to men’s tennis team roster issues. 

Harrison, born and raised in the United Kingdom, started playing in tennis tournaments at the age of four. He quickly progressed, consistently ranking well, and moved to Spain at 15 in the hopes of pursuing a professional tennis career. When looking at colleges, he chose to come to Brandeis because it is the “best mixture of athletics and academics.” Harrison attributes many former players leaving the team due to unfair treatment from Coach Christo Schultz.

Schultz joined Brandeis Athletics as the head men’s tennis coach at the beginning of the 2022-23 season. Harrison expressed that during his first year on the team under Schultz he did not have many issues. He mentioned that adapting to the team was difficult and there were a few miscommunications, however, Harrison attributed these small misgivings to it being Schultz's first year as a coach. Overall he reported his first year on the team was a positive experience.

Harrison was able to build great relationships on the team and quickly adapted to the changes that Schultz made to the program. However, in the weeks leading up to the tennis team’s fall 2023 season, the team atmosphere changed and Schultz became stricter and more intense. As members of the team became concerned about Schultz's behavior, they went to Pauri Pandian, head coach of the women’s team, to express their concerns but were redirected to Schultz. Pandian provided Schultz with a list of the concerned players that had reached out, and Schultz pulled these students aside during various practices. When Harrison was pulled aside Schultz expressed his surprise that his name was mentioned, and said that “this isn’t a conversation to have now. We’ll schedule a time another day to talk about why your name was on that list and see if we can … figure something out.” This conversation never occurred.

As Schultz’s unwelcome behavior persisted, members of the team became continuously frustrated. Of the players that have left the team, Harrison reported that many of them have reached out to University resources. Harrison decided to leave the team in the beginning of March after the treatment of the athletes did not improve following conversations had with Schultz. 

The turning point for Harrison was the team’s trip to California in February 2024. Harrison reported that Coach Schultz had them playing for four hours prior to each match, consisting of a workout and warm up. According to Harrison, matches in college tennis can take “upwards of five hours.” Combined with Schultz four hours of “warm ups,” the team was participating in physical activities for around nine hours each day. Harrison raised his concerns about playing for so long to the team captains and got shut down. He was told, “I want you to go in with an open mind. Trust your body. The plan is the plan. We have to stick to it because Christo [Schultz] knows best.” So that’s what Harrison did. 

Despite his best efforts, his “body just shut down on” him during his final match and he “couldn’t play anymore.” Harrison expressed that two of his other teammates were also injured. These injuries resulted in the team having to forfeit two of their matches, which “[set them] up for failure.” 

Members of the team have been punished for not “giving 100 percent” and for not demonstrating team values while recovering from injuries. Harrison recalled a teammate being diagnosed with a health condition in the fall who was advised not to exercise for around two months. The teammate informed Schultz of the condition and took the semester off. Schultz did not allow him to return to the team spring semester, citing that he did not demonstrate team values by taking time away. 

According to Harrison, Alex Merson ’26 was also punished for not completely participating following an injury. Following the California trip, Merson, one of the players injured during the matches, “decided to not … run to chase the ball 100 percent” in practice “because he didn’t want to hurt his leg.” Schultz responded by shouting, saying “if you’re not going to try you can get the fuck out of practice.”

Following the trip to California, Harrison decided he needed to take a break from the team as a result of Schultz's treatment. He spoke to his parents saying “I don’t think I can … put up with this anymore. I am miserable when I step on the [court] floor because of Christo and I’m worried every time about getting shouted at or having to run sprints or whatnot.” He did not want to quit the team, as tennis is an important part of his life. He communicated to Schultz that he wanted to take a short break after explaining his concerns regarding the treatment of the team and the events that took place in California. Harrison took a short break from the team before being convinced by other team members to play in a match against Middlebury College. 

Following his break, Harrison had a meeting with Schultz to “once and for all to try and clear the air about everything” and tell Schultz that he “wasn’t happy with how [the team] were being treated.” In response, Schultz turned the conversation “to all the reasons why [Harrision] failed as a team member and how [he] wasn’t doing enough” and that by taking a break he “was letting [his teammates] down” and “everything [he] was doing wrong.” 

Harrison was given a list of non-negotiables by Schultz that he was required to follow, as a condition of rejoining the team. He decided to “give it one more go” and “felt optimistic that [he] could find a way to make it work.” This optimism did not last for long. At practice the following day, players were told that they were going to be running laps as punishment for some of the team being late to the bus. Schultz informed the athletes that he was not going to tell them for how long or how fast they would have to run, just that they would run untill he said they were finished. Harrison recounted that the team “probably did 12 laps around the track, sprinting as fast as we could.” He said that “we were all dead and he was shouting at us the whole time.” 

This was the moment that Harrision decided to quit the tennis team. Despite the optimism he felt following his meeting, Harrison no longer wanted to be treated unfairly. He said “I just don’t want to put up with this anymore. It’s not worth my time. It’s not worth my mental health. It just makes me miserable.” Harrison sent a message to Schultz later that day informing him that he was leaving the team and has had no further contact with him since. 

It is treatment like this that has caused many other members of the team to resign. According to Harrison, former members of the team Jack Goldstein ’26 and Aryan Nijhawan ’25 left because “they didn’t want to work hard every day and spend that much time playing tennis and jeopardizing their academics if their coach just made it a miserable experience.” The Justice did not speak with Goldstein, Nijhawan or Schultz as of press time. 

Despite many former players reaching out to people about the unfair treatment they have endured, Harrision does not “feel particularly optimistic” that the University will proceed with an investigation into Schultz’s behavior. Many players have left the team this season and as a result, the team is no longer in NCAA regulation. If no changes are made to the roster, the men’s tennis team will continue to automatically forfeit games. 

 –  Editor’s note: The Justice staff writer Rebecca Suarez ’26 is a member of the Brandeis women’s tennis team and did not contribute to or edit this article.