As the weather started to turn south on Tuesday, Greeley West coach Ryan Pace, Greeley Central coach Nate Will and their respective girls tennis teams resisted the temptation to make an adjustment to their schedules and to their slated rivalry match against each other.
Yet, the two teams would be all-too-willing to adjust once they took the court accompanied by temperatures in the low 40s, the occasional dusting of Dippin ‘Dots-like snow and – most notably – 20 mph winds with gusts over 30 mph .
The Spartans and the Wildcats made heavy adjustments to how they serve, how they swing and how they read the ball as Greeley West topped Greeley Central 6-1 within the harsh conditions on the Wildcats’ home courts Tuesday.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh, are we really going to play? I don’t know ‘- I was kind of stressed about it, ”Spartans junior No. 2 singles player Emma Rose said. “But then we came out here as a team and said, ‘You know, we’re just going to give it our all, play our best and have fun.’ … I warm up pretty easily when I’m moving a lot. But the wind is just so hard on your toss, and it makes the ball so unpredictable. So, you just have to be ready for it. “
Rose and her teammates certainly were ready. The Spartans improved to 1-1 in duals.
Rose earned a 6-2, 6-0 win against Greeley Central’s Gael Hammersley in a match that ended quickly enough to allow Rose to huddle up with her teammates and supporters in a futile attempt to stay warm as the rest of the dual concluded.
Rose’s teammate, senior Brookelynn Hernandez, battled the wind for much longer. Hernandez and Greeley Central senior Alexis Tapia engaged in the longest match of the afternoon, at No. 1 singles.
For nearly two hours, Tapia and Hernandez went back-and-forth before Hernandez secured the Wildcats’ sole win of the dual, 6-1, 7-6, and 10-0 (in a tie-breaker set).
Frigid temperatures and pesky winds aside, this is still Central versus West. Will praised his Wildcats squad for blocking out the elements and still playing with ample focus, grit and determination against their longtime crosstown rival.
“This is the first time we’ve had a match with all four seasons – with the wind and the snow and everything,” said Will, Central’s first-year coach. “But the mentality is our opponents have to play in it, too. It’s an even playing field. Wind is the toughest element to deal with when you’re playing tennis. “
Pace, Greeley West’s longtime coach, admitted Tuesday’s conditions were about the worst conditions in which he could imagine his team playing. Anything worse – particularly any notable precipitation that would make the courts slippery – would have resulted in the match being postponed.
The Spartans and Wildcats pressed on. And the players had to make perhaps as large of an adjustment mentally as they did physically, Pace said.
Pace’s players are used to needing to make mental adjustments.
Greeley West’s girls and boys tennis programs have spent the past couple seasons having to adjust to key injuries, roster changes and perhaps the most unusual circumstance of having to practice at city park courts and apartment complexes, as their tennis courts are being replaced, as is the Spartans’ entire campus.
“I’m not surprised to see them be able to adapt like this on the fly,” said Pace, who is in his 12th year coaching Greeley West, his alma mater. “Today, they were at the net, they were finishing everything. I’m super proud of them for coming out and adjusting for the conditions, because we typically don’t have to play in anything this bad. “
Singles – 1. Alexis Tapia, GC, def. Brookelynn Hernandez, 6-1, 7-6, 10-0; 2. Emma Rose, GW, def. Gael Hammersley, 6-2, 6-0; 3. Gabri Anderson, GW, def. Cami Heaston, 7-6, 6-2.
Doubles – Sophie Dhupar & Piper Clancy, GW, def. Cecily Mash & Val Arce, 6-3, 6-0; 2. Landry Young & Vanessa Mayeda, GW, def. Sonia Loma Artega & Mercedes Diaz Castillas, 6-2, 6-0; 3. Angelina Williams & Kalynn Jennings, GW, def. Sophie Charbonneau & Anna Vaughn, 6-0, 6-3; 4. Itzel Guidry & Davanee McKinney, GW, def. Viv Gonzales & Yahaira Alonso Castaneda, 6-0, 6-2.
Bobby Fernandez covers high school sports for the Greeley Tribune. Reach him at (970) 392-4478, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @BobbyDFernandez.