CHEYENNE – Wins were few and far between for local players when Cheyenne first started hosting the Intermountain Tennis Association Level 5 District Cup.
Slowly but surely, Capital City players have gone from winning sets to winning matches to winning titles.
Cheyenne South senior-to-be Brendan Lock won the under-16 and -18 boys singles titles last summer. He downed Cheyenne Central graduate Brian Joelson in the 18s final.
Joelson and Ryan Stampfli were part of winning doubles teams in the under-18 and under-16 levels, respectively. Central graduate Cailin Brugger also was part of a winning doubles tandem.
“Having this tournament here, with such high-level players here for the past couple of years, has inspired us all to work harder,” Brugger said. “We wanted to compete against those kids, and we wanted to beat those kids. We knew the only way we were going to do that was to work harder.”
The Level 5 District Cup returns to Cheyenne starting today at Holliday Park.
Josh Cossitt, the City of Cheyenne’s tennis director, said this group of kids has bought in more than any other he has coached during his decade-plus in his post.
Cossitt regularly takes players to tournaments around the region and training sessions with high-level players in Colorado and Utah.
Players who can’t make those trips are fixtures at the Holliday Park courts during warm-weather months, and the Frontier Park Family Tennis Center during the winter.
“We’ve seen a culture change with this group of kids,” Cossitt said.
“These kids are really dedicated. They’re dedicated to helping each other improve, but they’re also dedicated to helping the group of kids coming up behind them get better, too.”
Veteran players conducted the program’s regular workouts while Cossitt went on a recent vacation.
“The kids are really rocking it when it comes to creating a culture,” he said. “Culture can’t be 100% coach-driven. It has to be just about a 50-50 split between the coach and the players driving things. That’s where we’ve gotten here.”
This year’s tournament has 48 entrants, which Cossitt describes as nearly the perfect amount.
“Our biggest year was about 100 kids, and that was almost unmanageable,” he said with a laugh. “We had to use all three high schools, PODER Academy and Holliday Park. That was almost too much to coordinate.
“We have been relatively stable with between 50 and 65 kids. We lost a few kids this year because we ran up against the Colorado Junior Open when we pushed our tournament back a week.”
Lock will have to sit out this weekend’s event after suffering an aversion fracture to a finger on his right hand during a cycling accident. The two-time Wyoming No. 1 singles champion was sidelined for three weeks, but hit a round Wednesday morning.
He expects to be healthy enough to represent the Intermountain Region at the World Team Tennis Junior National tournament later this month in San Diego.