White Buffs have plenty to work on


Two matches into the 2014 tennis season has proved one thing to be sure for the Madras High boys team, the service part of its game isn’t quite up to speed.

That was the most glaring hole that coach Margaret Kincaid said after the White Buffalos dropped their opening matches of the season last week. Bend High handed the Buffs a 7-1 loss in the home opener last Tuesday, while Ridgeview closed out the week with a 7-1 Thursday.

But Kincaid said the week as a whole was good for her team.

“We definitely need to be working on some serves and regular fundamentals of ground stroking,” Kincaid said. “They did much better the second time around (against Ridgeview). The first matches of the season are always the hardest because there is always some anticipation and trepidation, and then, also, just some nerves.”

Almost like pitching always seems to be ahead of batting in early season baseball games, tennis serves usually are the last things to come around in a player's game. So Kincaid was ready for it to happen.

“Once they get back out on the court, it just comes back to them,” Kincaid said. “And the more we play, the better they will get.”

Kincaid said the team has already realized they will have to step up the workouts a bit to improve, but that is also part of the process of the preconference schedule.

“It gives us an idea of how much harder we need to work,” Kincaid said. “They played much, much better (against Ridgeview) than they did (against Bend).”

That’s one of the reasons Kincaid puts schools like Summit on the schedule. The Bend school, along with conference foe La Salle, has instant name recognition across Oregon as being a top tennis program.

But she stresses to her team that their lineups are made up of guys that are the same age; they just go to a school that may have a name that is better known. That it is all just in their heads.

“They just need to play their game and get into their mindset of what they need to do,” she said. “It’s anybody’s game.”

The focus heading into a light spring break week — the Buffs will play just a single match during the week off from school — will be on serves, cross-court passes and shots down the alley. Basically, just keeping the ball in play at this time of year is crucial.

Despite the lopsided scores, Kincaid seemed pleased with the effort she got in the first two matches. Obie Eriza notched the Buffs' lone win against Bend when he downed Miles Herman 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3 singles. Eriza then teamed with Noel Cardenas to get a win at No. 3 doubles against Ridgeview, beating the team of Taylor Colbery and Richie James 6-1, 6-0.

The Buffs’ No. 1 doubles team this year, Jered Pichette and Oved Felix, got off to a rough start, losing both of their matches. Shane Shegal and Sam Ainsworth of Bend handed the duo a 6-1, 6-4 loss before Caleb Maxwell and Brett Blundall of Ridgeview beat them 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Pichette and Felix went through the regular season unbeaten last year, but that was playing in the No. 4 slot. Being Madras’ top doubles pairing this year will see them having to play better quality opponents.

And it will force them to raise their game, Kincaid said.

“It’s a little bit of a reality check, in a way,” Kincaid said. “But when you go from No. 4 doubles to No. 1, it’s a little different. But I think they played a whole lot better than their opponent; it’s just when you double fault, you tend to get down on yourself and that’s what happened."

“It comes down to how to be consistent; you don’t have to power it,” Kincaid said. “Who can keep it in play the longest, who is going to make the mistake and hopefully it’s not you.”

Madras played host to Sisters Tuesday and will make its next start April 1 at Redmond.