NIWOT — Niwot’s Spencer Lang has lofty goals for his sophomore season but the biggest roadblock between him and achieving them may have already come and gone.
As the 2012 boys tennis season approached, Lang battled Osgood-Schlatter disease is his right knee that delayed his start. But having taken three weeks off from tennis to heal prior to the season, Lang said he’s right back on track following a 7-0 Cougars win against the Longmont Trojans on Thursday.
“I got a couple massages and taped it up. I think it was mainly just about getting a rest,” Lang said. “At first it hurt really bad. I couldn’t do anything. It still bothers me occasionally but it’s nothing bad at all.”
Occurring in active, growing adolescents, Osgood-Schlatter is caused by repeated contracting of the quadriceps muscle, which causes strain on the lower knee while the area is still maturing. It can cause painful swelling in the knee joint that can worsen with activity or contact.
The self-limiting disease hindered Lang’s serve and he could hardly move around the court. He missed the Cougars’ season opener against Skyline but says he’s about 98-percent healthy and back on track, which he demonstrated by defeated Longmont’s Erik Schulze 6-0, 6-2 on Thursday.
After winning the 4A No. 3 singles title as a freshman in 2011, Lang wants to win the No. 2 singles title this year. He’s off to a good start at 3-0, including No. 2 singles wins against Poudre and Silver Creek and a win at No. 1 singles against Rocky Mountain, a 5A team, while his older brother Harrison Lang (3-0) got a day off.
“It’s obviously more competition and its going to be hard but I think I can do it,” Lang said.
Harrison Lang is a good reference for his younger brother on how to deal with the painful condition. The elder of the two defending state champions had his own struggle with Osgood-Schlatter in eighth grade.
“You just have to take some time off and ice it,” Harrison Lang said. “He should be good to go. If it comes back you really just have to play through it. Eventually, you just get used to it.”
Longmont sophomore Jake Fell was Harrison Lang’s latest victim, falling 6-1, 6-0 to the 2010 4A No. 1 singles champion. But Lang said the Trojans youngster was impressive at the top of their lineup. Fell felt the same.
“I felt like I was hitting the ball a lot better than usual,” Fell said. “He just hits it so hard and so well. It was a good match and I felt like I played pretty well.”
The Trojans have graduated 16 players in the past two seasons. As a result a lot is being asked of Fell, who made the jump from No. 3 singles last year.
Having proven himself to be a state tournament-caliber No.3 player in 2011, Fell has started out 2-1, with wins over the No. 1 players from Poudre and Broomfield. He’s sprouted up over six feet tall and is driving the ball more aggressively rather than looping lob shots back at his opponent.
Fell won one of the five games the Trojans took from the Cougars, Schulze won two and junior Cameron Yee won two. The Cougars swept the four double matches, winning with eighth straight 6-0 sets.
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Niwot 7, Longmont 0
At Niwot H.S.
No. 1 — Harrison Lang, Niwot, def. Jake Fell, 6-1, 6-0. No. 2 — Spencer Lang, Niwot, def. Erik Schulze, 6-0, 6-2. No. 3 — Allen Fu, Niwot, def. Cameron Yee, 6-1, 6-1.
No. 1 — Drew Pasma/Carter Pentz, Niwot, def. Ben Orr/Adam Wolford, 6-0, 6-0. No. 2 — Scott Rutherford/Trevor Jones, Niwot, def. Austin Braun/Ethan Moffat, 6-0, 6-0. No. 3 — Satvik Saini/Cecil MacGregor, Niwot, def. Dylan Brooks/Matt Billes, 6-0, 6-0. No. 4 — Colin Forke/Nick Hirano, Niwot, def. Matt Applen/Dylan Gissell, 6-0, 6-0.