The transition from the high school to the college level is always different depending on the athlete.

Some adjust quickly and have immediate success, while others take some time to find their way.

There was never any doubt that former Class 4A state champion Spencer Lang of Niwot's game would translate to the next level ... again, it was just a matter of time.

The early going at Butler University in Indianapolis was rough for Lang and the wins just weren't coming, but he has since turned things around and has won his last six matches.

"It's starting to get a lot better," he said. "This line-up is a lot of freshman and it is a steep learning curve for all of us and for especially at the beginning of the year, I just didn't know what to expect."

Very early in the season, Lang was playing at the top of coach Parker Ross' ladder and while the matches were competitive, finding a way to win those matches was a little different.

Lang went down the ladder at the start of February, played No. 4 singles and won his first collegiate match against the University of Dayton's Zach Berry — a three set thriller that Lang puled out 11-9 in the deciding set.

Since Valentine's Day, Lang has lost just one match and that was in Louisville, Kentucky against a ranked U of L Cardinals team.

Lang said getting comfortable with the differences between the high school game and college has been key to the turnaround.


"The intensity from the first point. You've got to be loud and you have to be in your opponents face," Lang said. "There is so much that goes into establishing that dominance on the court and getting into their head.

Another thing that Lang pointed to is just the quality of player he is facing on a week-in and week-out basis. Whereas in Colorado, where he dominated the opposition and many time they would just roll over once they got down, that is not the case anymore.

"Once you had the momentum on your side (in high school), you could use that to your advantage and pretty much coast," said Lang, whose team hosts DePauw on Thursday and travels to Bloomington to take on Indiana on Sunday. "Here, if you break, your opponent is looking to break right back. If you win the first set, they are immediately looking to get the first game of the second.

"It's all a lot of focus and mental toughness."

One thing Lang has had to learn to do is play doubles. In high school and on the summer tour around the western half of the country, Lang played little or no doubles and has had to learn on the fly.

Early on though, he needed a little direction.

"I didn't even know where I was supposed to stand and the first tournament in the fall he put me at No. 1 doubles with one of the transfers and I was just all over the court and this kid was looking at me, like what are you doing?," Lang recalls. "It was a disaster, but I'm learning a lot and getting better."

Jon Yunt: or