West netters motivated by narrow title miss
In 2014, the goals of the Pueblo West High School boys tennis team are simple.
Beat defending league champion Pueblo Central and qualify as many as possible to the 4A state tennis championships.
But getting over the frustrations of 2013 will be job one.
Last year, the Cyclones had a solid squad that seemed to be just one step short.
To close the 2013 league schedule, the South Central League championship came down to a winner-take-all bout with Central.
The Cyclones took the one-, two-, and three-doubles matches while the Wildcats won all three singles matches. The whole dual, and the season, came down to the four-doubles match, which saw Central win over West sophomores Cole McCarthy and Wesley Hermes 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
The Class 4A Region 7 championship was lost by a single point, finishing second there, as well.
But with much of last year’s team returning for 2014, the team has singular focus.
“We are capable of winning both the league and region,” West coach Nathan Mutz said. “But it won’t be easy.”
The key will be establishing some consistency in singles matches, as evidenced in its season-ending loss to Central.
However, the Cyclones return all three of its singles players from last year, giving the team a level of consistency.
Leading the group is one-singles player Jack Morrison. Morrison went 7-6 last year in singles play and is on the cusp of becoming a state-caliber player, Mutz said.
“Jack had a solid season last year and his goal is to qualify for state,” Mutz said. “But he has a lot of stiff competition.”
At the two and three holes, Steven Coy and Greg Wakefield return. Wakefield, the Cyclones’ lone returning state qualifier, represented the team at three-singles.
At doubles, regularly the team’s strength, the Cyclones are relying on a deep roster to determine the eight starting spots. Mutz said the team will compete in the preseason to determine those spots.
But overall, the team is hungry and is being helped by perhaps one of its best summer training regimens in Mutz’s three years helming the program.
Over the summer, the team took part in United States Tennis Association junior matches, keeping them sharp and hopefully putting them a step ahead.
“[Playing in the USTA program] has been a huge help for this program,” Mutz said. “All the guys have gotten a benefit from it.”
Once again, the season can all come down to the Sept. 25 match with Pueblo Central, but the Cyclones must take care of business first, starting Friday and Saturday at the Air Academy Tournament.