Down one set in his final match of regionals, all the pressure fell off the shoulders of Durango High School freshman Ethan Craig.
Craig, son of Nancy Agro and Geoff Craig, opened the 4A Region 8 boys tennis tournament eager to qualify for the state tournament in his first year of high school. He lost his opening match to the defending state runner-up from Aspen but battled back in a lengthy match to beat a player from Vail. With a chance to play for a spot at state against a Steamboat Springs player, Craig lost the first set 6-1.
“I came back and won those last two sets with nothing to lose,” Craig said. “I was stressed out going into the matching. I knew I had to play good with it being the match to get to state. After that first set, I had no pressure because everyone is expecting you to lose.”
Craig has played tennis since he was 4, with his father coaching him along the way. Though it is only his first year of varsity tennis in high school, Craig is no stranger to playing boys of high school age. He has played at the under-14 level since he was 9.
“I would play USTA tournaments and play two or three age groups up,” he said. “It was easier competition in my age group but not helping me. It was different ball sizes and court lengths. So I played against high-schoolers who were super big with big serves.”
That experience paid off. Craig won the No. 1 singles position this year. Though his year admittedly started off rough, he rallied at the right time.
“It was hard to adjust, but when it counted at regionals, I was happy with my form,” he said.
Craig also runs cross-country and is a decorated Nordic skier. When he’s not competing in athletic events, Craig can be found in the theatre performing as a stage actor.
There won’t be any acting from Craig when he gets to the state tournament in Pueblo. His game is real, and he’s ready to hunt for an upset in the first round against Nick Lorenz of Discovery Canyon.
“Making state was my goal,” he said. “Since I made it, now it’s all-or-nothing. I’m playing the best people, so now it’s time to go have fun.”