Though not the most ideal day for tennis, a cloudy, windy day last week, a portion of the girls team at Montrose High School were at the tennis courts near the high school anyway, getting some work in during non-mandatory practice. If anything, it’s the perfect time for a group filled with youth to get extra work in, and get acquainted with one another before the start of the season.
“Since it’s a really young team, we’re all helping each other get in the groove of things,” freshman Andie Blowers said.
Blowers is one of several freshmen that will partake in varsity play this season. She, along with Katy Story and Rhyan Neary, have some tennis experience, having played in years prior to joining the high school program.
Tony Ryan, who will serve as assistant coach this spring alongside head coach Jim Aragon, said there’s some familiarity for him with the players. He coached some of them in summer programs during their middle school years.
“We’ve really increased our level of power and topspin of the ball, and a lot of them have improved to twice as good as they used to be,” Ryan said. “They’re participating, practicing, putting the effort in and learning, so it’s easy to teach them tennis.”
The group’s balance, footwork has steadily improved, and there’s been a focus to key on leg power exercises to generate faster and more powerful swings. They made a conscious effort to practice in the fall.
And now that their days away from their first matches, excitement is kicking in as they get a look at what it takes to play at the varsity level.
“To know that there’s actually a season and you’re not just doing it to do it — even though that’s fun — there’s actual games to look forward to, that’s exciting,” Story said.
Andie’s sister, Cora, will be the Indians’ No. 1 singles player her senior season. She played as the No. 2 doubles player her freshman year, and this season, she’ll lead the Indians. Andie, who Ryan said is at the same level Cora was as a freshman, largely due to Cora taking the time to mentor her sister, is likely to slot in as the No. 2 singles player.
“I’m looking forward to playing with my sister, because I think she’s going to help me a lot,” Blowers said of Cora. (The sister duo, at times, formed a battery last fall for the Montrose softball team, with Cora on the mound and Andie catching behind the plate.)
Story and Neary are likely set for No. 1 or 2 doubles for the Indians this spring. The team will roster around 18 players, with 11 set to play varsity, and seven in junior varsity, with some with potential opportunities later in the season to play some varsity matches.
Unlike previous years, due to the season restructure from the Colorado High School Activities Association in response to the pandemic delays, the Indians will get the benefit of playing their season in May as opposed to March, when the weather typically isn’t as friendly.
“I’m excited for the whole team to grow closer together as we travel and spend more time together,” Neary said. “I feel like the tennis team is going to be like a family at the end.”
The girls will start the season on Saturday in Grand Junction.
Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press