Washington men’s tennis coach Matt Anger admires Kyle McMorrow’s constant desire to get better. Anger said the UW junior’s drive to improve is what sets him apart from his peers, and he has seen vast improvements in all facets of McMorrow’s game since the junior first arrived on Montlake nearly three years ago.
But after a first-round loss in the NCAA singles championships yesterday, it’s clear that McMorrow still has room for improvement.
In Athens, Ga., the 23rd-ranked McMorrow lost in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, to Georgia’s Sadio Doumbia to officially bring the UW’s season to a close.
Things got off to a shaky start for the Husky when McMorrow dropped his first service game, but he broke back immediately to bring the first set back on serve. Then, though, he lost four straight games to drop the first set. The second set was a tight, back-and-forth affair, but McMorrow had a chance to get ahead when he had double-break point with the game at 4-4. He couldn’t cash in his opportunities, however, and eventually gave up a critical break to give Doumbia the win in the final game.
“I think Kyle played a little tentative at the beginning,” Anger said. “The bottom line was not being able to capitalize on those points to really get into the match and get comfortable out there. … I’m not disappointed in Kyle’s effort; he was trying, he was playing as hard as he can, and he’s been becoming a better and better competitor. … Just, unfortunately, he was a little tentative.”
The first-round exit is a much earlier one than both McMorrow and Anger would have preferred, but the junior’s season can nonetheless be deemed a success. McMorrow was a mainstay in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) top 25 throughout the year, and even climbed as high as No. 9 in February, becoming the UW’s fourth player to ever crack the top 10. He earned a coveted invitation to the ITA Indoor Championships in the fall, where he picked up two wins in the most exclusive tournament in college tennis.
In Anger’s eyes, the productive season, which also featured all-Pac-12 first-team honors for the junior, has McMorrow on the cusp of being considered among the nation’s elite.
“Each year, Kyle’s been doing better and better, and the good news is there’s still room for his game to grow,” Anger said. “He can do it, he’s shown that he can beat top players, but there’s still being able to do that consistently so he can be an All-American level.”
To prepare for his senior send-off next year, McMorrow will spend the summer traveling to various pro tournaments where he will compete as an amateur. He leaves just four days after his last final, and while his summer will surely be a grind, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
After all, he is always trying to get better.
Reach reporter Thuc Nhi Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @thucnhi21.
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