Pueblo East’s Carly Rode captures first regional tennis crown, earns state berth – Sports – LA Junta Tribune – La Junta, CO


From the moment Carly Rode stepped on the court this season, her coach sprinkled belief on her soul.

East High School’s girls tennis coach Ed Francis told Rode from the jump she could win a regional title and go to state.

The Eagles No. 1 singles player brought those words to fruition Saturday at City Park.

Rode won the Class 4A region 7 No. 1 singles title 7-6(1), 6-0 to win her first crown and advance to state.

“I’m really pleased and excited with how I played,” Rode said. “It’s definitely been my goal the last four years to get the regional title. I worked really hard and so I feel really good.”

Widefield’s Madison Villers had no intentions of allowing Rode to earn her first regional title and scrapped for one of her own.

Villers put Rode in a 3-5 hole in the first set and nearly won. Rode, however, displayed resolve and didn’t buck at Villers’ lead.

“She hit everything back but it wasn’t as hard,” Rode said. “After I started to get used to it I was like, ‘OK, now I know how to play against her.’”

Rode’s methodical approach after trailing sparked the Eagles’ senior to stymie Villers and allow her just one more game across both sets.

“If the points were longer it was better than me trying to finish the point quicker and missing it,” Rode said. “So I was just playing more consistent and not hitting as many winners as normal.”

She hammered that point home with finesse on the game and match point of the second set.

Rode endured a six-shot volley before Villers hit her return out on the right side of the court to give Rode the victory.

Francis said Rode’s mid-match changes propelled her to finish strong against Villers.

“On her serves, instead of standing up straight to start the toss, she was leaning forward just a little bit, so she was missing all of her first serves,” Francis said. “We have a saying called ‘CFF’ which is, if you concentrate on your footwork and your form, everything will go smooth. …That’s what she started to do.”

Francis also noticed Villers hit shots over Rode’s shoulders or below her knees. He advised Rode to remain patient to dissect Villers’ game.

It wasn’t long before the Eagles senior did just that.

“She started figuring out how to set (Villers) up,” Francis said. “(Villers) would hit the ball short so (Rode) would hit it back short. She’d come in and then Carly would hit the deep angle on the other side.”

That forced Villers to drop back to hit a deep-angle shot with the ball going away from her, which allowed Rode to capitalize.

“I switched my game in order to score points against her style of play,” Rode said. “I feel like that mindset changed in the middle of the first set and carried over to the second set.”

Now, Rode will prep for her final state appearance. She’s looking forward to the challenge.

“I can’t wait to see who I play,” Rode said. “I know it’s a completely different level of play at state. All of the girls got there for a reason. I’m excited to play against those kinds of players.”

Chieftain sports reporter Marcus Hill can be reached by email at mhill@chieftain.com or on Twitter @MarcusLHill.  



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