Only the lonely

Moving from doubles to singles an adjustment for prep players

Central’s Jamie Johnson returns a shot during her No. 2 singles match Friday at the Western Slope Invitational. Johnson lost to Fairview’s Katie Kuosman in the second round.



Fruita Monument’s Meredith Soychak makes a return during her 6-1, 6-0 loss to Denver East’s Natalia Dellavalle at No. 2 singles.



In tennis, possibly more than any other sport, singles players cannot hide from self-talk. The matches generally are quiet. Faces are exposed. And when the player has just moved up from doubles, they can become a bit crazy.

“I feel like I know my teammate is still behind me,” said Grand Junction’s No. 3 singles player Nicky Arja, the only local athlete who Friday made it to the semifinals of the Western Slope Invitational at Colorado Mesa University.

Arja played No. 2 doubles last year.

All three of the Tigers’ singles players last season played doubles, which, in comparison to singles, offers a teammate’s support, less court to cover and, of course, half the attention.

Fairview leads the invitational with 150 points, followed by Fruita Monument’s 144.

Play resumes with the semifinals at 8 this morning at CMU.

As it is a tendency of many tennis players, expect the girls to be talking to themselves, especially those who have transferred from doubles play.

“I talk to myself all the time,” said Grand Junction’s Kylie Pond, who played No. 1 doubles last season but will play singles this season.

But now that second player is gone. The encouraging phrases and clapping vanished. So the players compensate by creating it themselves — an art otherwise known as talking to one’s self.

Crazy?

A little, perhaps.

“It’s not like I’m having a conversation with myself or anything,” said Tigers No. 2 single player, Anne Hughes, who played No. 4 doubles last season. ” ‘Anne, let’s go. Anne, hit those shots. Anne, do better.’ No, I don’t do that.”

Monica Li, Fairview’s No. 1 singles player, is a senior who has played singles since she was a freshman.

She has adjusted to the “lonely” life on the court, having played singles since middle school.

But it’s tennis. Of course she still talks to herself.

“People think you’re crazy,” Li said. “I hope I’m not crazy.”

She is, however, the returning Class 5A No. 2 singles champion.

“Since we’re talking about being a little crazy,” Li said, sarcasm permeating from her eyes, “I’m also the best player in my own head. Because I’m the only person in my head. Until Joe comes around. But Joe doesn’t play tennis ... “

Then she explodes in laughter.

But seriously. The doubles-to-singles players are not joking about the mental adjustments they’ve had to make, starting with the 16 teams at the Western Slope Invitational.

Fortunately for Central, all three of the Warriors’ singles players have been, well, single for at least three seasons.

Aimee Basinski, who won the regional championship at No. 1 singles for the Warriors last spring, sprained her left ankle in her first match Friday and had to default out of the tournament.

Fruita also has some talkers on its team.

“You get crazier,” said Fruita Monument No. 3 singles player Sierra Segrest, who played No. 2 doubles last season.

“You become more crazy because it’s more mental. It becomes a chess game. Usually you can talk to your teammate and you vent to them. But now you can only vent to yourself.”

Breaking up, after all, is hard to do.

“It’s mostly because you’re alone,” Segrest said. “It’s all on you. There’s a lot of passion in tennis. It can make you pretty crazy. Look at professionals, they’re screaming at themselves, yelling all the time.”


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