Ashley admits she had to modify her expectations for her inexperienced boys and girls teams this year.
For several of Mission’s tennis players, this was their first season playing at the varsity level or even playing against live competition.
“Our players responded really well and they were all really scared,” Ashley said. “They did really good for their first time out. Once they got their feet in the water, they were fine.”
Ashley admits it’s difficult to get several of her first-time players to ‘calm down.’
“I don’t calm down myself during tennis matches,” Ashley admitted. “It’s very normal to be scared and you have that nervousness in you. Even when you are more experienced and you go into the game with a mindset that you are going to do well in he match, it’s good to go out there and play a little nervous. Especially when you are playing tennis for the first time and still getting used to it. I just tell them to ‘go out there and have fun with it’ and that we have the whole rest of the season to play a bunch more games and get better.”
Bulldogs overcome lack of numbers
The inexperienced and outnumbered Bulldogs boys team has already reached one milestone: they won a match in their first outing against Darby Thursday at Mission High School.
This accomplishment is no small feat considering the Bulldogs’ lack of numbers and experience make it hard to compete.
Warren Castor defaeated Darby’s No. 1 player Kyle Wall.
“Castor won his match and he is the only one that got to play against Darby,” Ashley said. “The No. 1 is actually decent, and Castor came out and beat him that night. He had a strong start to the season.”
Lady Bulldogs overcome inexperience
Mission No. 1 player Elsa Kylen followed her male teammates and won the first match of the season.
Kylen, who was playing her first-ever match against live competition, finished the weekend with a 3-1 overall record.
“We knew Elsa knew how to hit a ball and she took lessons but not once did she play against competition,” Ashley said.
Ashley said she had to modify expectations for her young team, who experienced tennis for the first time.
“We talked a lot about the reality of it and when it’s the first time you’ve ever played tennis, it’s important not to compare yourself but just focus on trying to improve on yourself,” Ashley said. “What you can do is be real with them, understand that they are beginners and go from there. It’s really easy to get down on yourself when you are comparing yourself to others.”
Ashley said she wasn’t “surprised” but she was “pleased” with her team’s early-season performances.
“I don’t think anyone surprised me in Missoula,” Ashley admitted. “However, I am really proud of our players for staying calm and they are doing really well for beginners.”