Highland boys tennis off and running to undefeated start
May 03, 2019 10h35
By Josh McFadden
Highland’s Jake Bauman has been the team’s top performer this season. The team won its first eight games. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Elsholz)
By Josh McFadden | [email protected]
Highland boys tennis coach Jeanine Elsholz had high expectations coming into the season. So far, her players haven’t disappointed.
Contending with snow and rain, in addition to opposing teams, the Rams won their first eight matches of the season, many in come-from-behind fashion. The team looks to be a favorite in Region 6, and Elsholz hopes Highland can be a factor in May’s Class 5A state tournament.
All this success has come despite the late winter/early spring weather limiting practice times and requiring match cancellations and rescheduling. One of the biggest accomplishments of the non-region portion of the schedule was a first-place showing at the St. George Tournament in March. The Rams captured top honors there by going 23-2 in its matches in the two-day, 16-team tournament.
No. 1 singles player Jake Bauman was impressive at the tournament, as he has been all season long. He is a team leader for the Rams in every sense of the term, including filling a role as team captain.
“[Bauman] has been solid for us all year,” Elsholz said. “He is a steady, confident player that refuses to give up or quit on any point. His ability to focus throughout a match is very impressive. He has led the team quietly by example. He worked hard offseason and continues to work hard every day in practice. Two years ago, he was on our developmental team; this season he is our top player. He takes the game seriously and always gives his best effort. As a coach, I really appreciate that example.”
He’s hardly the only Ram to exhibit the commitment and work ethic Elsholz is looking for. She is impressed with everyone’s desire to improve and to help the team reach its goals.
“The team attitude has been great overall,” she said. “They are confident and believe in themselves.”
The Rams have had some close calls this season in its undefeated run. There have been several occasions where players have gotten behind by a set or where they’ve been down in the decisive third game, only to turn things around and win. Elsholz hopes the players will avoid those setbacks as the season progresses.
“I am looking for them to be able to focus a little more and clean up the errors during games,” she said.
The Rams started region play the week of April 15. The season now takes on an even more important role, as every point is critical. Winning region won’t be easy, especially if players get complacent or lose focus.
“Our region has a lot of good teams in it, and we need to be ready to play each and every match,” Elsholz said. “Our region is set up in a way that we earn points for wins during region play and carry those points into the region tournament. To have any chance of winning a region title, we have to do well during the region matches leading up to the region tournament. It is almost impossible to do well at the region tournament if you start behind other teams in the point total.
“The success we hope for at state starts now with region wins. If we do well during the region season, we start higher at the region tournament (both in points accumulated and seeding), which then leads to a higher seed at the state tournament.”
Elsholz said she and her players are aiming for a top-finish in Region 6 and a top-five showing at state. Last season, Highland qualified all but one of its varsity players for state and had one individual victory. Elsholz hopes to see even better results this time around.