We often times just focus on the physical elements of athletes and their achievements and tend to lose sight of the importance of the mental aspects.
If you get the two working in perfect harmony, that is when the achievements become boundless.
For Niwot’s Meagan Londa, it took some time to pair the two. She always had the physical part of the game down. It wasn’t until her senior season this spring, playing No. 2 singles for the Cougars, that she was able to incorporate the mental side.
“After las year at state I knew I had to change something and I knew the biggest thing for me was mental because last year I just broke down a little,” Londa said. “And I knew this year if I had any chance of placing that I would just have to keep going and never give up.”
It paid off for the senior, who capped her high school career with a fourth-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament in Pueblo and earned the Times-Call Player of the Year award in the process.
“I think top four exceeded her her own expectations,” Niwot coach Aimee Irwin said. “There were matches (in the past) where she would be up and just couldn’t close the deal and a lot of that was mental for her.
“This year she believed she could win and she played like it.”
The biggest test to that new and improved mental strength came in the state quarterfinals against Dawson School’s Jill Howarth. Londa dropped the first set to the Mustangs senior 6-3, but rallied to win the next two sets 6-4, 6-4 and advance to the semifinals.
Londa would lose in the semis to eventual champion Delaney Nalen of Kent Denver and then in the consolation draw ended up fourth.
“I’m very happy. It’s the best I’ve done in all four years at state. It’s hard to end the season on a loss, but I’m very proud of how I played,” said Londa, who lost her third-place match to St. Mary’s Academy’s Suzy Xiao in straight sets. “I’m just happy with how the season played out this season.”
Londa — one of those players known as a “wall” for her ability to hit everything back — added a new dimension to her game this season with power and pace. Her fearlessness in going for shots that she would balk at in years past proved to be a catalyst in her ability to win matches.
“I’m usually a very consistent player, I’m a wall and I get a lot back,” she said. “But this year I was able to go for a little bit more and I think that helped me a lot.”
For now, Londa’s days of playing competitive tennis are over. She is headed to her family’s old stomping grounds in Ann Arbor, Michigan to become a Wolverine this fall at the University of Michigan. It is where her parents met and were her brother currently goes to school.
She will bring her racquets with her and may try and play some club level tennis, but will definitely keep hitting with friends.
Follow Jon on Twitter: twitter.com/JonEYunt