|Freshman Logan Connella VVN/Travis Guy|
While the Mingus Union boy's tennis squad has scored a team victory yet, things are starting to turn around for the freshmen rich squad.
"I'm still pleased with the boys," said head coach Tim Kessel. "I've not seen a boy let [me] down. I haven't seen in six all the way to one and I haven't seen it in doubles. Obviously we're 0-3, but we're in matches. My hope is that at the end of the season, those three or four shots that can make a difference in a match, that we start getting them. That's what I'm looking for."
Just three matches into their season, the Marauders are beginning to find their groove and it is noticeable in the scores.
In its most recent match against Page High School, Mingus Union was dropped 4-3, but its biggest point differential was four points in junior Tanner Caron's 6-2, 6-2 loss. Freshmen Joseph Sandoval and Logan Connella both earned their second singles wins of the season by besting their opponents in a tie-breaker set. Joseph won his 10-8 and Logan was the last Marauder on the court as he battled with his Page counterpart, edging out a 11-9 tie-breaker set.
"I was just trying to keep focusing on getting the ball back in play and focusing on giving it my all," Logan said. "I'm new to this, so its kind of difficult, cant be hitting the ball as hard as the older guys, but practice and it will come."
Junior Talon Walz was the other Marauder to notch a win, bringing his singles record to 3-0 on the season. Despite being undefeated in singles play so far, Talon knows there are still things he has to work on so he can thoroughly dominate his opponents.
"Really, it's just playing matches and matches. I play tight usually in the first set against other people, but today I was really relaxed and kept my errors down. It's easy to keep the errors down when your not so tight and everything's smooth," Talon said. "I just have to keep not letting my doubles get me down. That's what happened Friday. I let the double get me down, came off slow and played tight. I just got to clear it out like I did today. We lost double, but I just cleared it out, came and played my game."
One of the main things helping the freshmen is that, as Kessel put it at the beginning of the season, all athletes. That means he is not worried because the newcomers have not played tennis before because he knows they will be able to pick it up, which is what is happening.
"It's true," Kessel said. "As far as wins right now, we're kind of winning at the top and winning at the bottom, which does happen when you're against more experienced teams, which is what we're facing right now. We're facing, with our freshmen loaded team, for example, Page is a senior loaded team with five seniors. It shows in the doubles especially. The teams that are more experienced and older, they have more strategy down in doubles. Whereas in singles, you can just run around and make plays and be athletic, but in doubles it takes strategy. I think that's where we're going to make strides, in the second part of the season, is our younger kids will start figuring out how to play doubles and have that teamwork."
The success has gotten Logan excited. He is getting better at certain aspects of the game.
"I've seen how other players play," Logan said. "Different serves, different shots and everything, where they like to place the ball, where it's harder to get to the ball ... It's great. Its fun to know that I'm new and I'm already picking it up this quick. It's exciting [and] I can't wait for future years."
Kessel is singing the praises of his freshmen on courts four to six, including Talons little brother, freshman Turner Walz, who is win less in the season.
"Turner, he is win less, but he's playing in the middle if the line-up, so it's tougher on him," Kessel said. "He's playing older boys, and they're tougher seeds. Even though he's our freshman who doesn't have the wins, he's still playing tough."
The boys travel to Bradshaw Mountain High School for its next match on March 27, at 3:30 p.m. before returning home April 3 against Flagstaff at 345 p.m.