Boys tennis: Niwot’s Lang earns Times-Call Player of Year honor

Niwot's Spencer Lang has been named the 2013 Times-Call boys tennis Player of the Year.
Niwot’s Spencer Lang has been named the 2013 Times-Call boys tennis Player of the Year.

NIWOT — There are certain people in the Niwot camp that believe Spencer Lang is the best player in the state.

And no, the Cougars personnel are not just tooting their own horns. They have some proof to back that up.

“At a certain level, there are a few guys in the state of Colorado that are pretty equal,” said Lang, who has been named the Time-Call Player of the Year honors after his third-place finish at No. 1 singles in the Class 4A tournament in Pueblo.

“It’s all about who gets hot, who has the confidence and plays well that day. Anybody can beat anybody.”

Just last weekend in Las Vegas, Lang turned up the heat on his opponents at the ITA Great Pumpkin Sectional Championship. En route to his third-place finish, Lang knocked off Cherry Creek No. 1 singles champion Zach Fryer and the 4A No. 1 singles champion, Luke Lorenz of Discovery Canyon.

The junior has taken mental notes from not only his success in Vegas, but also what happened last month in Pueblo. Lang bowed out in the semifinals to eventual runner-up David Mitchell of Kent Denver in a tough three-set match.

“It’s all about when you peak and you try to peak at state,” said Lang, who finished second in 2012 at No. 2 singles. “To know that you can compete with the best players in the nation and know that you are at that level, there should never be a feeling that you shouldn’t be at that level and you should always have that confidence.”

Niwot coach Miikka Keronen, whose team finished third in the team standings at the state tournament, knows that the sky is the limit for Lang — whose older brother, Harrison, won the No. 1 singles championship the season before. Harrison Lang also was the 2012 overall boys tennis Player of the Year honor.

“He had a great year and lost to a great player at state,” Keronen said of Spencer Lang. “I think he is the best player in Colorado.”

Knowing that he has one more year to add a state championship to his resume, Lang understands that while the national competition will make him a stronger player and catch the eyes of the colleges, a state championship would be the cherry on top of his youth career.

“It would mean a lot and that is the goal going into high school. Not just getting that state title, but pumping up your school,” said Lang, who has his eyes on both Creighton University in Omaha (which his brother attends) and Gonzaga on his list of possible suitors. “It’s always been a goal of mine and doing it in my last year would be great.”

Keronen — an accomplished player himself who juggles his duties at Niwot with his job as a teaching pro at the Ranch in addition to regular appearances on Colorado’s summer tennis tour that involves both the city and state opens — knows that he can provide Lang with the proper tools to get him ready for the next step, too.

“He can get bigger and stronger and just add more match experience,” said Keronen, a former All-American at Azusa Pacific. “He’s working on a lot of things to get better for college, and he’ll be there.”

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