Omeed Latifi has come a long way, but he wants to go farther.
Latifi, a sophomore, is one of Hickman’s most consistent tennis players. Despite that, he always finds something to improve in his game.
He will look to show off some of that improvement in the Mid-Missouri Invitational today and Saturday. Hickman’s first match is at 10:45 a.m. today at home against Springfield-Glendale.
“Not to get ahead of ourselves, but we want to try to get to the finals,” Latifi said. “I know we’ve got Glendale ahead, and we might have Lafayette also. We’re hoping to advance and win our first one at least so we can get on the winners side, because we didn’t do that last year.”
Rock Bridge, Springfield-Kickapoo, Jefferson City, DeSmet, Lafayette and Liberty also will compete in the tournament.
Latifi started his freshman season as the Kewpies’ No. 5 singles player, but worked his way up when Nate Bohon, Hickman’s usual No. 1 player, missed time with an ear infection. This season Latifi has a secure hold on the No. 2 slot.
Latifi looks to improve
Many would view this as great progress for a sophomore, but Latifi said after his match Tuesday he thinks he can do better.
“I still have a lot of improvement, just from today,” he said. “I still have to work on a lot of serving, returning, volleys. I feel like I’m playing all right, but there’s still a lot of improvement left.”
Modesty is clearly one of Latifi’s dominant traits; he makes it clear when he comments on his progress from his play one year ago.
“I think I’ve got a little bit more confidence,” he said. “I feel a little bit more comfortable in certain situations, but like I said, I’ve still got a lot to work on.”
He started playing tennis about five years ago. He credits his friends for giving him his start.
“We just went out there and hit,” he said. “It became an everyday thing, and I started taking it seriously. Now its just something I love to do, that and soccer.”
Some aspects of soccer, such as the aggressive mindset, have translated into success in tennis for Latifi, but as usual, he is quick to point out areas where it has not helped.
“I think my footwork is actually pretty pathetic in tennis,” he said. “There’s a lot I can do with footwork. My mentality though, I like to bring that aggressiveness from soccer here. I think I’m a little bit more mentally in it sometimes just from that.”
A successful singles player, Latifi also enjoys doubles play, where he frequently teams up with Bohon. Latifi said that both types of tennis appeal to him in different ways.
“I like doubles because its fun; you’ve got a partner,” he said. “It’s sometimes more relaxed. With singles, it’s all on yourself, and I like that, too. You’re the only one that can make your mistake. You’re the only one that can succeed. If you lose, it’s only your fault. You can’t blame anybody else but yourself.”
Should Hickman win its first match, it will play the winner of Lafayette and Liberty at 3 p.m. today at Bethel Park. If Hickman loses its first match, it will play at 3 p.m. at home.
Rock Bridge’s first match is against Springfield-Kickapoo at 11 a.m. today at Bethel Park. With a win, the Bruins will play the winner of DeSmet and Jefferson City at 3:15 p.m. at Bethel Park. A loss would move Rock Bridge to Cosmopolitan Park at 3:15 p.m.