In his first match as Mingus Union boy tennis’ No. 1 player, senior Alex Flannery made sweet music, winning singles and doubles.
Flannery, who also plays clarinet in the Mingus Union and Cottonwood Community Band, won his singles match 6-0, 6-0 and the doubles match 8-3, leading the Marauders 6-3 triumph over Moon Valley. The season opening win matched Mingus Union’s 2016 win total.
Mingus Union head coach Larry Lineberry said a straight sets win in a No. 1 match is unique.
“Oh and oh is very rare, it hardly ever happens at number one,” Lineberry said. “It’s extremely rare because most teams will have a good number one player regardless of the rest of their line up so that’s what was pleasantly surprising about Alex’s win last week.”
Lineberry coached Flannery a couple years before he became Mingus Union’s head coach last year. He said Flannery improved his coordination through hard work.
“He’s become more much more consistent and a much better competitor in matches,” Lineberry said. “That’s probably the biggest part of his game that’s improved: his ability to compete in a match. He doesn’t make as many unforced errors, he doesn’t get down on himself, he’s always looked to make improvement from point to point, so that’s the mark of a good competitor and that’s probably the most impressive improvement.”
Lineberry said they are working on bringing more offense to Flannery’s game with is forehand.
“Alex is a powerful player, he’s big, upper body strength,” Lineberry said. “The other part of Alex’s game is that he’s good at the net. He likes coming to net, he has big reach, good size, so it’s difficult to get it by him when does get there, so we try to take the ground strokes, push a player off the court, come to the net, volley the point away.”
VVN: What are your thoughts on how the season started?
Flannery: Everybody’s feeling really optimistic after that first victory, over Moon Valley. We’re building up the team a little bit more in terms of skill and everything, trying to get everybody better.
VVN: How did that first match go for you personally?
Flannery: My first singles match I won in straight games, 6-0, 6-0, and my firs doubles match, which I played with our number two player, Caleb Wylie, was 8-3, against their number one team. We did very well, a lot better than any of us were expecting or even hoping for.
VVN: How do you think you guys play together as a doubles team?
Flannery: Caleb and I work together a lot, we communicate a lot, because that’s a very important part about being on the team. When you’re out there, it’s very easy to get yourself down in the dumps, when you mess up an lose a point and so we communicate a lot more to prevent ourselves from losing too many points simply because our heads are not in the game and are drifting into something negative that’s going to affect our game.
VVN: How about for you personally, moving up to the No. 1 slot, what’s that been like?
Flannery: For me there’s a little bit more pressure as number one. I was number three last year. So year for me the pressure has definitely gotten a bit higher because every team has at least one semi decent player. So it means that for the most part I’m going to be facing off with a lot more skilled players than I’m used to, so there is a bit of pressure for me.
VVN: Do you approach your matches differently than last year now that you’re No. 1?
Flannery: Actually I’ve used more or less the same approach. For me, I usually try and keep myself calm, because that is one of the key points of the game. I’m always thinking about of how I want to play off the points and I’m always looking over my technique, my strategies and everything so that I can ensure victory on the field.
VVN: When did you start playing tennis?
Flannery: My mother used to take me and my brother out when we were children to play on the courts. We didn’t really get that much into it until, let’s see, that was, seven years ago? Yeah. That summer we went out and got to play couple points and we just really got into the game and we got hooked up with one of the local coaches, Rick Champion, if you’re familiar with him. We played with him for a while, until he died and then we got hooked up with Larry and he has coached me for the last four years.
VVN: What did you think when he got named the Mingus head coach?
Flannery: I was happy, because I know him, I know that I get along with him and I know that he’s very good and he can teach us and teach me and everyone on the team and help us improve.
VVN: Who’s your favorite tennis player? All time or currently playing?
Flannery: Currently, my family’s always big on, me an my mother are always big on Novak Djokovic. Although I guess Murray’s alright.
VVN: What are your interests outside of tennis?
Flannery: I do play in the band, both high school and in the Cottonwood Community Band. Besides that, I am extremely interested in history and do quite a lot of reading.
VVN: What instrument do you play?
Flannery: I play clarinet.
VVN: What’s your favorite class?
Flannery: Right now I’m unfortunately taking any history classes, so I can’t say that my favorite is history. For right now it’s Spanish, because I like working with foreign languages.
VVN: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Flannery: Let’s see, in five years I’m expecting to be probably in the University of Arizona. I’m going to try and major in anthropology and possibly minor in history or maybe music.