CHEYENNE – Fletcher Mothershed set a goal for himself after his first season with the Cheyenne South tennis team.
“I definitely wanted to play singles this season,” the sophomore said.
With that goal in mind, Mothershed went to work almost as soon as his season ended with a three-set loss in the No. 2 doubles bracket of the Wyoming state tournament.
Mothershed became a regular at Holliday Park workouts with the Capital City’s top junior players. He also hit as much as he could with South senior Brendan Lock, who is chasing his third No. 1 singles state title.
“I didn’t really have a plan for how I was going to get that singles spot,” Mothershed said. “I was just going to practice as much as I could and work as hard as I could.”
Those efforts paid off, as Mothershed was able to unseat senior Wyatt Ebben for the No. 2 singles spot during challenge matches. Ebben – who is now playing No. 1 doubles with Raymond Dougherty – spent three seasons as the Bison’s No. 2 singles player.
“(Mothershed) has really matured mentally, and his ability to stay in points is a lot better,” Lock said. “He used to just hit two or three balls and try to end the rally. He is able to stay in points a lot longer now.
“It’s just about focus and wanting to figure out your opponent’s weaknesses by keeping them in the point as long as possible and wearing them down.”
Like most young tennis players, Mothershed wanted to end points as quickly as possible. He got wide-eyed at the prospect of hitting winners on sharp cross-court angles or down the lines. Mothershed has learned that the first opportunity to attempt to end a point isn’t always the best opportunity.
“You can’t always hit a winner,” Mothershed said. “Sometimes, it’s best to keep the point going and see how it plays out. Sometimes there is going to be a better shot to hit than that winner I want to hit early in the point.
“I just have to stay patient.”
Increased patience has helped Mothershed post a 5-2 record. He dropped a 6-1, 6-4 decision to Sheridan’s Reed Rabon on Saturday morning.
Mothershed’s five wins are tied for second-most among No. 2 singles players in the state.
“He has been working really hard on not relying on his athletic ability so much,” Bison coach Josh Cossitt said. “Kids gravitate towards their strengths. If they’re fast kids, they don’t think they have to read the ball well because they can just run the ball down. If they’re big, they think they can just go to the net and win with length and cutting down angles.
“He is learning to play higher percentage balls and play the right pattern. I want him finishing points the right way. Sometimes that means getting to the net for a higher percentage shot, or understanding how to grind a guy down. I want him playing efficiently.”
Mothershed – who attends PODER Academy – has found himself getting less frustrated on the court.
Those emotions only led to more mistakes, he said.
“When I got angry at myself, everything pretty much fell apart,” he said.
Mothershed has grown considerably in just one season, but knows he still has work to do.
“I need to get better at serving,” he said. “I need to toss the ball higher so I can extend my arm and really hit down on the ball. I’m working on that right now.”
Bison get first win over Sheridan
The No. 3 doubles tandem of Colton Tyner and Frank Torres downed Lucas Grutzmacher and Luke Lawson, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to secure a 3-2 victory for South over Sheridan. It’s the Bison’s first win over the Broncs in school history.
Senior Brendan Lock picked up a 6-1, 6-0 win over Ethan Kutz in a rematch of the 2018 No. 1 singles state championship match. South also got a 6-2, 6-1 victory from the No. 2 doubles team of Justin Valdez and Josiah Moyte.
The South girls fell to Sheridan 5-0.
The Bison host Rawlins at 11 a.m. Tuesday, followed by Laramie at 4 p.m.
SOUTH BOYS 3, SHERIDAN 2
No. 1: Lock, South, def. Kutz, 6-1, 6-0. No. 2: Rabon, Sheridan, def. Mothershed, 6-1, 6-4.
No. 1: Woodrow/Springsteen, Sheridan, def. Ebben/Dougherty, 6-3, 0-6, 6-4. No. 2: Valdez/Moyte, South, def. Thompson/Hoy, 6-2, 6-1. No. 3: Tyner/Torres, South, def. Grutzmacher/Lawson, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
SHERIDAN GIRLS 5, SOUTH 0
No. 1: Kutz, Sheridan, def. Brown, 6-1, 6-0. No. 2: Laird, Sheridan, def. Foster, 6-0, 6-0.
No. 1: Sheridan wins by injury default. No. 2: Malkuch/Bilyeu, Sheridan, def. Schmiedel/Sparks, 6-0, 6-0. No. 3: A. Mitzel/G. Mitzel, Sheridan, def. Bonney/Williams, 6-0, 6-0.