A season ago, Colin Bahin and Aaron Koerner had never competed together in doubles tennis. Each player did his work on the singles front for Missoula Big Sky with limited success — Koerner was a state qualifier in 2012.
This spring, a bond bred over the summer has turned into one of the most dynamic doubles teams in Montana AA tennis. With a straight-set victory against Missoula Sentinel on Thursday, Big Sky’s No. 1 duo improved to 6-0 on the season.
Where does the success all start? Communication, the heart and soul of doubles.
“We have a really good chemistry, Colin and I,” Koerner said after wrapping up a 6-2, 6-2 victory Thursday against the Spartans’ Chris LaPorte and Drum Caras.
And where did that all start? Koerner’s back yard.
Late last tennis season, Bahin began making the trek from his house — the whole “three-minute walk” — down the block to Koerner’s for extra practice after Big Sky’s regularly scheduled court time. The latter Eagle has his own net setup there, and with the pair basically being neighbors, they’d found new convenient hitting partners.
Practicing against each other became practicing with each other and learning to think in stride together. Tennis doubles relies so heavily on teamwork that speed bumps are almost expected early in a pairing. These Eagles may have the awkward getting-to-know-you period, though.
“We got some practice together and we’re good friends now — which helps,” Bahin said.
“I think that makes us a better team than most because we know our shots and what we can both do,” Koerner said.
The idea entered preliminary stages last summer when they played together for the first time in an off-season doubles tournament. When that went well, Koerner and Bahin drew up the rest of the plan and pitched it to coach Gordon Terpe.
It’s worked so far in the high school season. And the way things are going now, it wouldn’t be a shock to see both boys making a trip to the state tournament this time around.