MUNSTER | Colin Richter has some big shoes to fill this season. In fact, just about all of the Munster returning boys tennis varsity players do.
Richter could be the only senior playing varsity tennis for the Mustangs this season. On a squad that graduated five of its seven varsity players last season, there is simply no doubt who will step into the No. 1 singles spot this season.
It could be a nerve-racking task for most kids who haven't filled that position before, but Richter is ready to accept that role.
"Since I was a freshman, I knew all the up-and-coming players," Richter said. "I knew that as a senior, I'd have to fill the shoes of No. 1 singles. I've been preparing, and I think I'm ready to fill that spot."
Richter will get a taste of the tough competition that comes with being a team's top player when Munster travels to the North Central Invitational on Aug. 31, where the Mustangs finished second place in their eight-team division the past two seasons. Last year, Richter went undefeated at No. 3 singles at the event.
"Without a doubt," Munster coach Steve Lopez said. "It'll be nice for him to see 'how do I stack up?' We have the season to continue to work on some things to help improve his situation and his game."
Learning how to be a more aggressive player has paid dividends for Richter throughout his prep tennis career. As a sophomore, he played doubles before being switched to No. 3 singles as a junior.
"When (Lopez) put me on doubles my sophomore year, it was definitely to get me more aggressive," Richter said. "He saw me play as a freshman and I was more of a heavily defensive player. Moving me to doubles where you have to be aggressive really made me play differently."
Lopez said Richter may lack some of the physical tools that some No. 1 players possess, but he makes up for that with a very strong mental game. Perhaps that's why Richter has plans to major in biomedical or chemical engineering instead of playing college tennis.
"His mental game is so smart and he's always a step ahead of you knowing where you're going to go next with the ball," Lopez said. "He's going to make you earn every point. He's a grinder. We're not asking him to change his game up a whole heck of a lot."
The Mustangs have won eight straight regional titles dating back to 2005 and hold the state record for most consecutive sectional championships (32), dating back to 1981.
"We want to pick up one more regional (championship)," Richter said. "We have a saying or word every year, and this year our saying is 'one more.' We really want this one more regional. We took a big hit to our varsity losing a lot of players, but that just means we have to try that much harder to come back and recover."