LOUISVILLE — Monarch's No. 1 and 2 singles players Michael Conde and Quinn McNamara, who just narrowly missed qualifying for state at last year's regionals, are learning to stay patient this season.
Patient on the court. And patient for another opportunity.
First-year coach Ryan Berman has challenged his team to stay in the moment during every point and every match this season. Dialed-in, his team has gone 9-1 in duals this season and took third at the Front Range League tournament in Loveland on Wednesday.
Next, the Coyotes will travel to Grand Junction in a week for state regionals as they look to get back to the state tournament after qualifying no one in 2017.
"The goal is to get everybody to state," Berman said.
How sweet it would be. Especially for the likes of Conde, McNamara and Noah Messman, who each finished just outside of the state tournament with third-place finishes in singles play at last year's regional.
This year, Conde and McNamara both finished 9-1 in dual matches in the team's top two spots. Connor Reuter went 8-2 in duals in No. 3 singles, and Noah and Alex Messman went 8-2 in dual play in No.1 doubles.
"It was so gut-wrenching last year that we didn't quite make it to state," said McNamara, who took first in the league tournament in 2 singles. "We really wanted it but fell a bit short.
"This year, we've put in a lot of work over the offseason and we're just going hard. And we're having a lot of success because of it."
It started with a mentality change.
McNamara said he has benefitted from a stronger focus on his mentality during matches. Conde, meanwhile, has worked to better pick his spots on when to be aggressive on the court. The third-year ace said he has improved from something the team refers to as the "four-ball rule", which means a player must try to get four balls in play before searching for a winner.
"I've always been pretty good with consistency and keeping the ball in play and keeping the rally going, but sometimes there are matches where I forget about that and I go for it too much early on," Conde said. "Whenever my coach comes up to me and tells me 'Hey remember, hit the ball in and get four balls in a row'. Usually when I do that and rally out and get four or five balls in a row the opponent will miss, and I can win that point.
"It helps me stay in the match," he added. "And once I'm more focused and can hit those balls in, I can go for the bigger stuff."
Fairview won the Front Range League tournament Wednesday. Broomfield took second.
Brent W. New: firstname.lastname@example.org and @brentwnew