SHERIDAN — Sheridan High School tennis head coach Bob Faurot keeps things simple for his team. He doesn’t concoct a catchy team motto or bombard his players with complex and layered goals ahead of each season.
Instead, Faurot has remained consistent in the expectations he has for his team each and every year. And they’re short and sweet.
“I always want a top-four finish at state for every team,” Faurot said. “That’s the goal we always shoot for.”
Student-athletes come and go, and every team develops its own identity. While some Sheridan teams have ceilings higher than others, Faurot believes the goal of placing in the top four applies to all.
The Broncs were on pace to reach their goal last season. After only losing a few regular-season matches between the boys and girls team combined, Sheridan had reason to believe it would contend at state.
But the postseason brought a different story. In the matches that had a little more at stake, a little more pressure, Sheridan came up short. The Broncs didn’t play up to their potential, couldn’t adjust to the speed of courts and for the most part faltered.
“The moment we got to state, we had some issues,” Faurot said. “We didn’t play up to our ability. … I think it was partially nerves. And another thing was our conference match the week before got rained out, so we missed playing on the courts over in Gillette. They are very fast, and we are not used to that. Now, everybody has to deal with that, except Gillette, so thats’s not an excuse.”
Those factors all resulted in a less-than-desirable finish. While the Lady Broncs still snuck inside the top four, the Broncs plummeted down the standings, getting bounced in early matches, en route to a seventh-place finish. The players have since looked back at the 2017 state tournament and realized the error in their ways.
“We didn’t focus enough in practice, and it really showed at state,” Ethan Kutz said.
Many of Sheridan players have found the silver lining, however, and now know what not to do in order to have a more enjoyable time at state. “I think that we didn’t take our practices super seriously, and we are doing a lot better with that this year,” Julia Kutz said. “We are getting more in shape, and we are working on strategy a lot more.”
Sheridan will have a shot at redemption this season. Jackson was originally slated to host the state tournament, but because of high hotel prices the tournament relocated just down the road in Gillette.
Not only will the travel prove easier on the Broncs, but the speed of the courts in Gillette won’t come as shock like they did last year. Throw in the fact that the conference tournament is also in Gillette and Sheridan should stand confident and well acclimated to their surroundings, searching for that top-four finish.