The tennis weather wasn’t ideal Tuesday at the Mack Chase Athletic Complex, and unfortunately, the Bulldogs’ and Lady Bulldogs’ play followed suit.
Taking on Class 4A power Portales, the Artesia athletes struggled under cloudy, breezy, and intermittently rainy skies, with the ‘Dogs taking just two matches from the Rams in a 2-7 loss and the Lady ‘Dogs falling 0-9.
“On the boys’ side, we had a couple of kids missing Tuesday,” head coach Tim Trentham said today. “Our 1 and our 7 were gone, and that moves everybody up plus has your 9 playing doubles, so altering the lineup like that can affect things.
“On the girls’ side, Portales is just a really well-coached team. But I think our overall performance could’ve been better.”
The dual marked the Artesia netters’ final regular-season competition of the year, and they’ll have to quickly put it behind them as they prepare for the start of District 4-AAAAA play.
The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs will host Goddard at 3 p.m. Tuesday at The Mack, and Trentham and his staff will be looking for an outcome more similar to their teams’ early-season meetings with the Rockets rather than their most recent.
“When we played them in Lovington, we took some pretty big lumps,” Trentham said. “We were not as successful as we would’ve liked to be, or as we had been earlier in the year, by any means, so we’re looking for some turnarounds Tuesday.
“None of the matches we played were blowouts. It’s not like we walked onto the court and couldn’t hit a shot. But even though we’re inexperienced, we have to kind of take it upon ourselves to win. We as coaches have done everything we can to prepare them as far as where their skill levels are and where their understanding of the game is. Now they just have to add that heart and that mental game into it, and make themselves push themselves over the edge.”
Trentham says the expectation of victory has been a missing ingredient for the young Artesia teams this year, and if his athletes hope to be as successful in district as he knows they can be, they’ll need to add it to the mix.
“We just need more confident play,” said the coach. “That’s kind of what we’re missing on both sides is the knowledge that we’re as skilled as our opponents and then just the determination to win. You’ve got to have those two things in a game as mental as tennis. You can’t just rely on the skill set, because when you get into a match that’s even, the kid who has a little bit more mental strength is going to come out on top.
“That extra edge is necessary to get there and is what we need from them on Tuesday. We have to play with some intensity, play with some fire, play with some determination to win in order to get ourselves ready for our district opponents.”