The Cheney High School boys’ tennis team had its shares of ups and downs last week, having mixed results.
Against North Central, the team won 5-2, facing some tough competition along the way.
“It was a really solid victory for us,” head coach Jesse Erickson said.
No. 1 singles Tyler Bennett was unable to overcome North Central’s Justin Clawson and fell scoreless for the day.
“The effort was there,” Erickson said. “I knew coming in his opponent was a strong player, but he was definitely trying his hardest.”
Overall, the team has seen great improvement over the past weeks, developing into a cohesive unit.
“Our ground strokes are improving,” Erickson said. “One thing we need to work on is our backhand, but that’s getting better.”
In doubles play, Tristan Bennett and Paul Oakes were able to make strong strides in their own time on the court, beating their opponent 6-3 and 6-1, earning accolades from their coach.
“They got a big win. They’ve had several close losses, so it was good to see them finally get a win,” Erickson said. “They were really aggressive right from the get-go and it paid off for them.”
While efforts against North Central proved strong, West Valley came in next to shake things up. Cheney ended up losing by a score of 6-1, putting the team at an even record of 5-5 overall on the season. Erickson knew the challenge of beating the Eagles was high after being shut-out against them earlier this season 7-0.
“Things went a little better, but singles-wise we just aren’t strong enough to match up against them,” he said.
The singles players weren’t able to capitalize on opportunities, and lost throughout the day.
Doubles players, however, held on a bit longer. In particular, Oakes and Ben Sanchez pulled out the lone winning sets of the day, going 6-1 and 7-5 against their opponent.
“This was their first match teamed together,” Erickson said. “The other team battled back in the second set, but they were able to hold their own.”
While stinging, Cheney isn’t letting the loss deter their vision. Already playing at a better level than their 6-9 season last year, growth in recent weeks has taken place from the team’s youngest players.
“It just shows how our freshmen are doing,” Erickson said. “We’re a deeper team than most and we’re able to win the bottom divisions.”
Erickson said the talent shown by the younger players, combined with a skilled array of veteran players, has created an exciting atmosphere. Heading into the districts tournament in a couple of weeks, that energy continues to grow and should help some players in their postseason pursuit.
“I’m really happy with the effort my guys are putting in day in and day out,” he said. “They’re improving, and that’s what you want to see as a coach.”
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.