Galen Graham is one of three returning players for the Columbine Rebels. So he’s in a position to set an example for his more inexperienced teammates. The latest lesson was patience.
Columbine’s No. 1 singles player found himself trailing 3-0 early before winning five consecutive games against Arvada West’s Anthony Partrick. Yet Graham still lost the opening set Aug. 29 at Marker Park in a tiebreaker before rallying for a 6-7 (1), 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory in the Rebels’ 7-0 win.
“You just forget about the last set. You try to think about the future,” Graham said. “I knew that I could beat him if I played good.”
Columbine, as a team, played real well in its 5A Jeffco League opener. The two-time defending league champions dropped just two sets before closing out the 2½-hour match.
The Rebels, despite a complete overhaul of their doubles teams, remain confident they can defend their conference title in 2013, but it will be up to the Rebels’ top three players to lead the way.
Columbine’s No. 2 player, Andy Wright, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Michael Lechuga, said it’s tough when you lose eight seniors, but that he, Graham and Kyle Iverson have been trying to pick up the slack.
“We do sometimes put pressure on ourselves because we’re the only ones coming back and because we have to show leadership to the other guys,” said Iverson, Columbine’s No. 3, who scored a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Jadon Tanguma. “A lot of them don’t have the confidence, really, because they’ve been playing on the JV team.”
They certainly didn’t seem to be lacking confidence against Arvada West. All four Columbine doubles teams won, though the Rebels’ No. 1 duo of Cole LaFonte and Chris Collins did have to go three sets before squeaking out a 7-6 (5), 4-6, 10-8 win over Rady Waters and Michael Partrick.
No. 2 doubles Spencer Martin and Ethan Lanz, No. 3 Cole Casey and Peter Heller, and No. 4 Jough Mueller and Tanner Dreiling all won in straight sets.
Wright, like Graham, found himself behind early before he found a rhythm.
“I’ve been doing that all season. I hit some pretty good shots and took the first set and then rolled through the second,” Wright said.
Iverson, who said the goal of Columbine’s singles players is to improve the games of their inexperienced teammates as well as their own, played at No. 4 doubles in 2012.
He was one of those players this off season who was in need of confidence as he prepared to play at No. 3 singles. The move up the playing ladder was a welcome one, Iverson said.
“I actually like having to be out there on my own, because if I miss a shot, I’m only letting down myself. I don’t have to worry about my partner and their emotions,” Iverson said. “That’s what it comes down to — emotions, and if you can keep your head.”
Columbine did that this go-around.
Contact Michael Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.