CHEYENNE – Wyatt Ebben thought he had taken one sport off his plate when he decided to stop playing football in elementary school.
It didn’t take the Burns High sophomore long to find another sport to fill that hole – a sport he has to wear another school’s colors to play.
“I was probably a fifth-grader when my dad asked me if I wanted to give tennis a try since I wasn’t playing football anymore,” said Ebben, who plays for Cheyenne South.
Wyatt’s father, Dan Ebben, grew up playing tennis in Portage, Wisconsin. He connected with the city of Cheyenne tennis director Josh Cossitt and scheduled some private lessons for Wyatt.
It didn’t take the younger Ebben long to become hooked on tennis.
“At first, I enjoyed how different it was than other sports,” Wyatt Ebben said. “I had only done basketball and football and this was the first sport where I didn’t have a team.
“(Cossitt) made it a really enjoyable sport and that’s what kept me coming back.”
Ebben – who lives 34 miles from Cheyenne in Carpenter – took lessons from Cossitt once a week through his eighth-grade year. He decided he liked the sport enough to play for Cossitt at South.
More often than not last fall, Ebben caught a ride from Burns to Cheyenne with Jakobi Mirich, who swims for South. Ebben plans to get his driver’s license Thursday.
“It’s hard for him to get on the court often because of where he lives and where he goes to school,” Cossitt said. “But he is a multi-sport athlete, and his biggest asset is his athleticism. That has helped him pick up the game quickly.”
Ebben plays basketball and runs track for Burns. He placed sixth in the 3,200-meter run at the Class 2A state track meet.
Ebben is starting his second season as the Bison’s No. 2 singles player. He won three matches last fall.
“I played better than I thought I was going to,” Ebben said. “I didn’t think I was going to win any matches. I also got to go to some towns that I had never been to before. That was pretty cool.”
Ebben’s strength on the court is his serve, said teammate Brendan Lock.
“It can be hard to get back at times,” said Lock, who placed second in state at No. 1 singles last fall. “He does a really good job of putting it in tough spots and putting a lot of spin on it.
“He throws out some weird and wacky curves and you never know where the ball is going to go.”
Ebben is in the process of evolving his game from being a pure baseline player to playing serve-and-volley tennis. Ebben stands 6-foot-1, which is relatively tall for a Wyoming prep tennis player. That size can help him cut down the court.
“(Cossitt) thinks I should be playing serve-and-volley to take advantage of my size, my reach and my quick feet,” Ebben said. “I have been working on slowing my serve down a little bit, so I have time to get up to the net and get a ball I can put away.”
That transition isn’t going to happen overnight, Cossitt cautioned.
“It takes a little while to develop the skill set where you can come up to the net and start forcing your opponents into mistakes,” the coach said. “When he does develop that skill set, the points will be quicker.
“(Ebben) doesn’t have a lot of patience out there, so this is a good style of play for him. If he sticks with it, he could be very good his junior and senior seasons.”
South routs Rawlins
South had almost no problems against Rawlins in a 4-1 victory Saturday in Cheyenne.
Sophomores Lock and Ebben won in straight sets. Lock, the 2016 state runner-up, defeated Ryan Pfeffer 6-0, 6-1, and Ebben took down Jacob Pacheco 6-0, 6-2.
In doubles action, Mark Hansen and Rueban Moyte beat Cody Scott and Toran Flores 6-1, 6-4 while PJ Vigil and Anthony Guzman came away with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Cody Scott and Toran Flores.
South’s lone loss came at No. 3 doubles with Justin Valdez and Cameron Bird falling 6-1, 2-6, 6-0 to Sebastian Maes and Chad Hansen.