Adrian Games had given his tennis players a single mission heading into this season:
Play your best at regionals.
The Cougars did that, and then some.
In fact, the team’s strong play started a few weeks before regionals. Games knew following a close 4-3 loss to D’Evelyn in a Class 4A Jefferson County League dual match, that his team was ready to compete against the state’s top players.
“We came within two points of victory,” Games said.
After recording a solid second place finish at regionals and qualifying three doubles teams and No. 3 singles player Stephen Hardy for state, Evergreen certainly listed to its coach and played inspired tennis at Colorado Academy.
Hardy and company continued the strong play into last week’s state tournament in Pueblo, with Hardy winning his opening round match and nearly reaching the semifinals before falling in three sets in the quarters.
“I expected Hardy to make a run,” Games said following the tournament’s conclusion. “He fought hard and was competing against all seniors. As a freshman, I know he learned so much and his future is bright.”
Games said that Hardy possesses all the tools necessary to be a force on the varsity level the next few years.
“Stephen and I discussed after state what he needs to work on that will get him to the next level,” Games said. “He needs to improve his footwork intensity and needs to improve his volley. His second serve is phenomenal so now he needs to add a big first serve to get more free points on his service game.”
Also at state, Evergreen’s No. 1 doubles team of Nate Chart and Rock Wagner lost their first round match, then fell in a playback match. They were the only member of Evergreen’s team to make it into playbacks, as the other doubles teams didn’t get the help they needed to re-enter the tournament.
Games said that for the Cougars to take the next step as a team, a more stringent commitment to tennis is necessary.
“They are going to have to get the racquets out of the closet over the winter and summer,” Games said. “It’s impossible to go to the next level without a year-round commitment. We have the talent, all we need now is more experience.”