Bull Market For Boys Tennis
August 26, 2014By Ryan Kaufman of Fountain Valley School
If Fountain Valley School teams were stocks, one would be wise to start buying up some shares of the boys tennis team. In 2013, the team notched three 1st-place finishes at Regionals for the first time in a decade. In 2014, they return their most successful singles player and one of their state qualifying doubles teams. Add in a couple of promising new faces and the future for this program seems as bright as it has ever been.
The team’s offseason commitment to the sport reflects their optimism. Almost all of the returning players carved out time during their hectic summer schedules to hone their skills in anticipation of a strong upcoming season.
“I told them at the end of the year, if you want to be competitive, you’re going to need to be playing tennis, taking lessons, or going to camps,” Head Coach Randy Jones says. “It was good to see that some of them tried.”
One of the returning players that took Coach Jones’ advice was Senior Kyohei Takiya who will begin the year as the Danes’ number one singles player. Takiya was 9-3 during the regular season last year and placed 3rd at Regionals. He attended the IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis Program in Florida for three weeks. Nick Bollettieri, a legendary American tennis coach, founded the program in 1981. Bollettieri has been credited with developing top players such as Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles, and Mary Pierce.
According to his Head Coach, training in a top-flight program will serve Takiya well as he makes the quantum leap from Number 2 Singles to Number One.
“[Moving up from number two singles to number one] is going to be tough,” Coach Jones says. “It’s not going to be easy at all for him.”
Illustrating Coach Jones’ point, the schedule for Takiya features at least four returning state qualifiers, including three in each of the first three duals of the season. A potential fifth state qualifier, Zach Fluck of Canon City, who lost to Kyohei last year, would have to beat out the Tigers’ returning number one singles player before Fountain Valley travels to Canon City on September 11th.
On the doubles side, Seniors Sasith Weerasundara and Zack Salama will be the Danes’ number one pair. Weerasundara and Salama are coming off a State Tournament appearance in 2013 and will be playing together for the third year in a row.
“They’re feeling really good.” Coach Jones says. “They only managed to do number 3 doubles last year, they were very close to number 2, but were never able to beat them.” “I think getting the experience of having such a good record and going on to win regionals made them feel a whole lot better about themselves.”
It is not just the returning players that have the Danes thinking big in 2014. Newcomers Keita Kadokura and Mariano Jose Fernandez have grabbed the two singles spots behind Kyohei Takiya and have caught the eye of their Head Coach.
“They’re looking pretty good,” Jones says. “I’m really glad to see them make our team that much stronger.”
The team will have to be that much stronger if they are going to navigate their difficult 2014 schedule with the same effectiveness as their 2013 schedule. The program will no longer play the V2 teams of Cheyenne Mountain and Air Academy, which are the second-tier squads at those schools. In their place, the Danes will play Lewis-Palmer, who won the FVS Invitational last year, Discovery Canyon, and 5A Doherty.
The toughest hurdle, though, will be a familiar foe. Pueblo Central is the defending Region 7 Champion, going a perfect 10-0 in duals last year. They have beaten FVS the last two seasons, including a 5-2 victory in 2013.
“When we played them last year, they did not have their top singles players going,” Jones recalls. “They won at least two of the singles and maybe all three of the singles titles in the Region last year so they’re definitely going to be tough.”
Entrepreneur and investor Robert Arnott said, “In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable.” The schedule for the Danes is not comfortable, so take Arnott’s advice, and invest big in Randy Jones’ boys. They are going to pay big dividends.
The season gets underway for the Danes on August 26th when they host Lewis-Palmer at 4pm on the Fountain Valley School campus.