If you go
What: Class 4A/5A boys state tennis tournament
When: Oct. 13-15, matches begin 9 a.m. each day
Where: Class 4A is at Pueblo City Park; Class 5A is at Gates Tennis Center
LOUISVILLE — Nothing about Jack Ferry's senior season has gone according to plan. That doesn't mean it has been all bad.
The Coyotes tennis player first began feeling pain in his right arm in January. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with extreme bicep tendonitis and underwent a surgical procedure to fix the problem on June 22. Ferry went from preparing to play No. 1 singles and weighing his options for a potential collegiate career to being told he would miss his senior season.
Ferry, however, didn't listen. Determined to find a way to play for the Coyotes in 2016, he aggressively rehabilitated his shoulder an,d on Aug. 31, he played his first match at No. 3 singles. Getting by with a dogged mental approach, serving underhand, slicing his diminished forehand and relying heavily on his backhand, Ferry completed the minimum number of matches required to compete at regionals.
At the Class 5A Region 7 tournament last week, Ferry staved off elimination on match point twice to win a three-set playback match to qualify for the state tournament.
"I think it made me realize what's most important," Ferry said. "Winning and playing No. 1, which is what I was pretty set to do, was important to me. But I started thinking that it was more important to me to walk off the court with a smile on my face after every match and be a good teammate. I'm a really competitive person but winning isn't the only thing that matters to me anymore."
The only Coyotes tennis player not to qualify for state in 2015, Ferry overcame the odds and will join his teammates on the courts at Gates Tennis Center on Thursday. It has been a long, winding road for Ferry, who cannot practice and has to rest for several days to recover after each match he plays. He just recently began to hit topspin forehand shots but will likely continue to rely heavily on his backhand and slicing forehand shots.
Ferry will face Chatfield's Zac Meyer in the first round Thursday morning. He will find out quickly how well his strategy will work on Colorado prep tennis' biggest stage. Ferry is certain of one thing, however, and that's after everything he's been through, he expects to be among the mentally toughest players in the bracket, maybe even the toughest.
"I win all my matches mentally," Ferry said. "I depend on my opponents making unforced errors. A lot of guys just hit to my forehand and then come to the net. I have run way more than I normally would. After I had the surgery, the doctor told me I wouldn't be able to pick up a racket for four months. I thought about trying to play lefty but that didn't work out. My backhand and drop shots still work so the strategy just sort of evolved from there."
The Coyotes qualified players for state at six of the seven ladder spots, with most of them winning playback matches in order to do so. For head coach Duke Pauluch, having one of his senior leaders in the Coyotes lineup despite all odds is a major victory no matter how the results shake out.
"He worked extremely hard at academy-type training over the past few years," Pauluch said. "It's tough for anyone to have to go through surgery and miss their senior season. Once there was a glimmer of hope that he might be able to play this season, he made a mental adjustment right away just so he could play. It's amazing that he was able to stay positive while going from having such a huge game to having to serve underhand and chip forehands. It has been incredible to watch."
Local first-round state tournament draws
At Gates Tennis Center
No. 1 singles — Dawid Kijakk, Overland, vs. Spencer Wolff, Broomfield; Ben Antonsen, Mountain Vista, vs. Tom Melville, Fairview; Christian Holms, Chatfield, vs. Ethan Katz, Boulder.
No. 2 singles — Johnny Titelbaum, Rocky Mountain, vs. Ethan Schacht, Fairview; Charlie Franks, Denver East, vs. Simon Lupo, Broomfield; Robby Hill, Cherry Creek, vs. Henry Hawk, Boulder; Arjun Gupta, Fossil Ridge, vs. Reed Harrington, Monarch.
No. 3 singles — Alex Gordon, Cherry Creek, vs. Charlie Vanderberg, Broomfield; Zac Meyer, Chatfield, vs. Jack Ferry, Monarch; Graham Blanco, Fairview, vs. Everett Martin, Boulder
No. 1 doubles — Devin Harper/David Zhao, Fairview, vs. Hans Callahan/Will Enterline, Boulder; Justin Fristensky/Logan Fristensky, Monarch, vs. Josh Peterson/Luke Lindell, Ponderosa.
No. 2 doubles — Beck Chrisbens/Andy Wu, Fairview, vs. Quinn McNamara/Cyrus Evans, Monarch; Mitchell Manwaring/Mason Lewis, Broomfield, Jack Wahlenmaier/Wes Wainright, Rock Canyon.
No. 3 doubles — Blake Wood/Henry Kuhna, Broomfield, vs. Parker Kretzler/Jett Lopez, Horizon; Matt McCarthy/Gabe Caldwell/Nepveux, Regis Jesuit, vs. Teddy Schoenfeld/Nathaniel Lim, Boulder; Brooks Savage/Adam Chehadi, Fairview, vs. Connor Reuter/Noah Messman, Monarch.
No. 4 doubles — Zach Smith/Nick Svichar, Cherry Creek, vs. Anthony Moller/Jack Payne, Legacy; James O'Connor/Matthew Mahoney, Regis Jesuit, vs. Logan Pudaloz/Jackson Brusino, Boulder; Eli Yeagley/Luke Carison, Chatfield, vs. Isaac Moorman/Will Spong, Monarch.
At Pueblo City Park
No. 1 singles — Matt Chavez, Niwot, vs. Christian Ridings, Cheyenne Mountain; Daniel Guiot, George Washington, vs. Brett Finan, Peak to Peak; Matthew Lambert, Aspen, vs. Connor Larson, Dawson School.
No. 2 singles — Dillon Leasure, Aspen, vs. Riley Burridge, Dawson School; Brandon Nelson, Silver Creek, vs. Connor Campbell, Air Academy; Joey Geisz, Cheyenne Mountain, vs. Teo Cariov, Peak to Peak; Caden Kammerer, Niwot, vs. Quinn Bermingham, Colorado Academy.
No. 3 singles — Riley Black, Niwot, vs. Tanner Colson, Lewis Palmer; Eric Grieshaber, Mullen, vs. Michael Nagus, Silver Creek; Alex Illic, Aspen, vs. Peter Nieuwlandt, Skyline; Carter Holbrook, Dawson School, vs. Xavier Pacheco, Valor Christian.
No. 1 doubles — Manas Sains/Peter Graham, Niwot, vs. Keegan Mehall/Gabriel Suarez, Aspen; Gavyn Pure/Finn Jones, Dawson School, vs. Ben Rowland/Ethan Spillers, Lewis Palmer; Garrett Sutter/Nicholas Pulido, Colorado Academy, vs. CJ Fryberger/Kaden Randolph, Longmont.
No. 2 doubles — Riley Mulshine/Cruz Culpepper, Niwot, vs. Ahyo Falick/Peter Cordasco, Air Academy; Cade McClellan/Seth Clemente, Dawson School, vs. Dallas Dye/Austin Dereksen, Longmont; John Paul Starkey/Tanner Amman, Mullen, vs. Jake Furhman/Justin Thompson, Silver Creek.
No. 3 doubles — Ryder Aguilar/Taylor Proud, Pueblo Centennial, vs. Matthew Mazzetta/Jared Nielson, Silver Creek; Ben Howson/Sam Troughton, Dawson School, vs. Adam Teske/Zack Wilcox; Sam Bickham/Andrew Thomas, Niwot, vs. Jack Meiter/Justin Brand, Niwot; Isaiah Dawid/Garrett Rademach, Lewis Palmer, vs. Declan Morrow/Bryce Stewart, Skyline.
No. 4 doubles — Alex Baum/Trent Backman, Kent Denver, vs. Dimitri Gourgouris/Grant Lancaster, Peak to Peak; Patrick Xiao/Adin Heinritz, Niwot, vs. Zachary Lundgren/Resse Colson, Lewis Palmer; Dylan Miller/Stephen McDonald, Pueblo Central, vs. Ryan Otto/Cam Cramer, Dawson School.