Sept. 15, 2011
Patterson leads young Bearcat tennis team
A tennis roster filled with new players, some of whom are from Brazil and Spain, puts unique pressure on senior Calvin Patterson.
Patterson, who is from Edmonton, Alberta, is the only returning starter on a team that captured its second straight MIAA Championship last spring.
As a junior, Patterson played No. 2 for the Bearcats. Five seniors surrounded him.
"We have all kinds of new players," Northwest coach mark Rosewell said. "If we are going to have a successful year, we need Calvin to have a good year on the court and off the court."
Rosewell is confident Patterson is the right player to lead a new team. He's watched him rise from a No. 6 singles player for the Bearcats as a freshman to No. 1.
Frankly, Patterson said, he wasn't too successful playing No. 6 singles when he first started out.
But the initial setbacks didn't hold Patterson back. He worked hard to get better and the rise began. He moved up to No. 4 as a sophomore and No. 2 last season.
"That sums up my tennis career here, being able to go from No. 6 to No. 1," he said. "To go from not successful at No. 6 to fairly successful at No. 2 last year to hopefully successful at No. 1 this year feels good. It took a lot of hours and a lot of hard work."
The new players will look to Patterson and follow his example. They will also depend on Patterson just as much away from the court, helping them get acclimated to college life in Maryville.
"It's tough when you come into a new environment," Patterson said. "It was tough for me and English is my first nation. Some of these guys barely speak the language so I'm helping them out."
Patterson relishes the role of leader. He liked helping the new players getting their classes and living arrangement squared away.
"I like the position," he said. "It is different from the last couple of years. Even last year when I was a junior I was the young guy on the team because we had five seniors.
"It's a different role, but I like it. The guys look to me for guidance, especially off the court. I'm kind of leading the workouts this week. It's a fun role and I enjoy it."
The new responsibilities have not hurt Patterson's play on the court. In the first competition of the 2011-12 season, Patterson won all three matches at the Washburn Invitational.
Patterson was playing in the draw that featured the No. 1s and No. 2s.
"I just wanted to get some experience against some of the top guys out there," he said.
The Bearcats are spending this week training. They return to action next week at the Truman Tournament and will conclude their fall season at the ITA Regional.
The ITA Regional is important because it helps set the rankings for the spring season.
Primarily, the fall tournaments help the players figure out what they need to work on during the winter in preparation for spring.
"I want to get a feel for the level of play, get into a rhythm and get something to build off of," Patterson said. "I want to see how well I'm playing and what I need to improve on. I got five months to improve on those things. It's an opportunity to see where you are at and you got five months to make it better."
Patterson is determined to do his part to help the Bearcats stay at the top in the MIAA.
Rosewell, though, sounded like a coach when talking about the upcoming year. He was cautious.
"I'm basically a realist," Rosewell said. "It is hard to replace a team in one year. The guys all know it, too. We are getting good effort. We played well as a team last weekend. If we can keep it rolling, hopefully we can have a competitive team in the spring."
Rosewell is certain about one thing. He knows he's going to get Patterson's best effort.
"He is, by far, the hardest worker on our team," Rosewell said.
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