It registered only one point on the scoreboard, but it might as well have been five or six last year for Atlantic senior tennis player Mitch Leiferman.
As a junior, the Trojan tended to let one errant shot on a key point linger. It would control his thoughts and body language for the next several minutes.
"He used to carry a bad point on for a whole game or two," Atlantic coach Shawn Petersen said. "This year, he's just kind of moved on to the next point. He's been really tough."
A new season has brought a new mentality for Leiferman. He's off to a 4-0 start in singles as the Trojans' No. 1 player entering Thursday's Hawkeye Ten Conference home dual with Clarinda.
Leiferman said his fresh approach to the game has done wonders.
"It's not that I'd gotten extremely mad, I just would kind of get down on myself really easily," he said. "I've kind of held back on that this year, and I'm doing a lot better."
Despite standing 5-foot-6, Leiferman brings plenty of game to the courts. He uses a kick serve that not many at the high school level have. He thrives on the baseline, implementing a powerful forehand and both a one- and two-handed backhand, depending on the situation.
"He can hit all the shots," Petersen said. "He covers the court unbelievably well, and it's just really hard to hit a shot by him. He runs everything down."
Leiferman grew up idolizing his older brother. A 2008 graduate, Tom Leiferman played No. 1 singles for the Trojans and competed at the state tournament in singles and doubles.
Mitch Leiferman said he learned plenty from his sibling, who headed off to school at Iowa State.
"He helped me a lot with my serve and especially my forehand," said the younger Leiferman, who also expects to become a Cyclone next year.
As a sophomore, Mitch Leiferman primarily played No. 3 singles on a team that finished third at state. Last year, he and Derek Tjepkes won a district doubles title.
This season, after some experimentation, Leiferman appears to have found a comfortable No. 1 doubles partner in junior Tyler Fischer.
Petersen and Leiferman eventually will have to decide whether he will play singles or doubles in the postseason. Either way, he figures to be a threat.
"It's been fun to see, as a senior, in kind of his last go-round," Petersen said.
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