Bronco Tennis…the Good, Bad, and the Ugly

It wasn't supposed to start out this way. The NCAA has delayed some players getting to Boise State's men's tennis team. And, on the way to their 3rd consecutive national indoor tournament, Utah upset the Broncos.

The outcome of the ITA Mountain Regional Tennis Tournament wasn't what we hoped for…but there's a lot of GOOD in it. The guys, #28 in the country, lost 3-4 to Utah, #72 in the country, in the seventh and final match of the day. The surprise was that Thomas and Luke, the number 7th ranked doubles team in the country, lost.

The Broncos were on their heels most of the day, trailing in four of the six singles matches, but managed to pull up to a tie at three to three. That was GOOD. That forced the doubles point competition to see which team would advance to the Indoor Nationals in Seattle.

First doubles blood. Utah beat the Bronco's #2 team. Boise came back with a raucous, easy win over Utah's #3 team. Then Luke and Thomas ran into a buzz-saw inspired #1 Utah team and went down 4-8, even though Thomas, serving, survived six match points only to hit a blazing passing shot, that unfortunately, landed an inch long.

Hats off to Utah. They came to play, and they did, steady and solid, with far fewer errors. Excuses? Maybe? The Bronco's were a bit rusty and untested, and beat themselves. This was the Bronco's first match. Utah had already played several.

More GOOD. Luke and Thomas were superb at #1 and #2 singles. Touch, finesse, and clutch point play. They both won. They looked so good that this writer says no one will knock them out of the #1 and #2 singles slot.

GOOD and BAD. Clancy Shields played #3 singles. He beat himself in his college tennis debut. Too many unforced errors. He quickly lost the first set, went behind in the second, but came roaring back to make it 6-6…and lost the tiebreaker. Clancy was playing against a seasoned junior, a solid power hitter from Canada who made few mistakes. Chalk this loss off to the freshman-playing-his-first-college-tennis-match. But make no mistake, this young man is cat quick, and hits a crushing powerful tennis ball, and he has a victory against the #1 junior tennis player in the world, 2005 Junior Wimbledon Champ, Donald Young. Put pads on him and you have a Korey Hall clone, and he walks the talk on the tennis court. He redeemed himself in doubles, playing at #3, winning with Steve Robertson. These guys clobbered UTAH #3. It was never a match.

Some BAD. A real puzzler. The 2006 Bronco tennis team is not set…yet. Not the fault of the coaches or the team, it appears to be the system. There are three players waiting to gain clearance who have extensive and successful playing records. These guys are good, so good; all three could break into the line-up and be playing matches.

Kean Feeder is one. Touted to be a challenge to become #1. Rumor has it he will play…but possibly not until well into the season. A talented Southern California player is on campus. And there is a possible third player, who must reach Boise in the next few days from a long ways away…or he is probably history.

More GOOD. The Bronco team roster has three seniors, five sophomores, and two freshmen. If the new recruits make it, add another sophomore and two more freshmen.

The UGLY. The NCAA, dragging their feet, taking their own sweet time to make their decision if and how they will let at least two of these young men play.

The double GOOD. Coach Greg Patton's says when this player-thing gets sorted out, Boise State will be one of the top teams in the country.

Oh yeah. A triple GOOD. The Bronco fans. Standing room only. Tons of noise, cheering and yelling just like at Bronco Stadium complete with…BOISE! STATE!

It's going to get better and better.


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