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Next up for Pine Creek's Inman is state

By Bob Stephens

COLORADO SPRINGS - Playing tennis against McKay Inman isn’t unlike banging balls against a concrete wall. The ball always seems to come back.

“When McKay is on, he can rally with you all day,” said Stephen Mullennex, McKay’s teammate at Pine Creek. “He can grind with the best of them.”

McKay Inman

Pine Creek's No. 3 singles player McKay Inman serves during a match.

Inman qualified for the 5A state tournament as a sophomore last year while playing No. 2 singles for Pine Creek. When Mullennex transferred from Rampart, he won challenge matches against Inman and Pine Creek senior Andrew Pack to claim the top spot. Pack plays No. 2 singles.

All three qualified for the state tournament during Wednesday’s regional at Pinehurst Country Club in Denver.

“They could all do well at state,” said Pine Creek coach Dave Lehman.

Inman was happy to return to the state tournament but wanted to be at No. 2 singles again.

“I worked hard all summer and wanted to keep my position at 2 (singles),” Inman said. “So it was disappointing to end up at 3.”

Typically, he found a silver lining.

“But it gives me a better chance to win state,” Inman said.

Inman’s outlook didn’t surprise Mullennex.

“McKay stays positive whether he’s winning or losing,” Mullennex said. “He’s always positive.”

That’s as important as perfecting drop shots or an overhead slam, Mullennex said.

“Tennis is 70 percent mental once you have the strokes,” Mullennex said. “That’s what determines who wins a lot of the time.”

Inman, as the top seed in No. 3 singles, cruised through three matches at regional, dropping only six games. He beat No. 2 seed Kollen Kaltenbacher, an Air Academy freshman, 6-1, 6-1 in the final.

“He’s a tough player,” Kaltenbacher said. “I made some mistakes and when I did, he took advantage of it. He’s a consistent player.”

Lehman is definitely a fan of the 5-foot-11, 135-pound Inman.

“He’s a dynamite little player,” Lehman said. “He’s very scrappy, gets to every ball, it seems. He’s a winner.”

Inman said he played fairly well – but not his best – during the three matches.

“During my second match I kind of lost it for a while,” he said. “Coach (Lehman) came over and told me to calm down, go back to basics and I won my next game to close it out.

“Coach is good like that. He offers little tips like when a guy is missing shots when I go to his deep backhand.”

Would Inman have preferred tougher competition heading into state?

“This was a good confidence booster,” he said. “It was definitely a good warm-up for state.”

How does he expect to fare at state?

“I would like to win it, of course,” he said, “and I think I have a chance. I want to get to the finals; that’s my main goal. Winning would be an extra bonus.”

article updated on 10/9/09 08:33

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