Once Jason House stepped on the first rung, it was a pretty quick ascent up the ladder.
House, a senior and three-year member of the Kingman boys' tennis team, entered the season with a little rust on his racquet and suddenly felt the breath of up-and-comers ready to bump him from the line-up.
But House quickly made up for the lost practice time in the offseason and not only regained a starting singles position, but last weekend won at four of his matches at No.
He and partner Ryan Fruhwirth has lost just one match at No.
2 doubles this season.
"They really pushed him," KHS coach Darrin Peppard said of the underclassmen.
"Early in the season, the way the preseason rankings worked out, Jason wasn't even on varsity.
He played some challenge matches and fought his way up there.
Now he's playing as well as anyone on the team."
Last weekend he destroyed his Peoria and Deer Valley opponents and was the shining star during Kingman's disappointing loss to Deer Valley.
Against Peoria, he not only won convincingly in singles, but in doubles too.
He and Fruhwirth defeated Peoria's Nick Boroda and Nick Kim who usually play at No.
"He played quite well in singles early on, but he was playing some relatively weak competition," Peppard said.
"We moved him up the ladder simply because we needed some experience playing higher.
He struggled a little bit and then he just came on like gangbusters this weekend.
"That was one of the things that got overlooked this weekend.
In the afternoon we were disappointed as a team against Deer Valley but one of the big positives coming out of it was that Jason probably played the best singles match against Jeff Vilar.
He played exceptional all day."
Against Vilar, House won 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (4-7), 6-2.
"My last match was probably the best match I've ever played," House said.
"My footwork and my ball placement were good.
I don't lose my head.
I keep my head on and stay focused on the match."
One thing that's giving House a dose of confidence heading into singles is when the team plays doubles first.
He and Fruhwirth are a lethal combination between Fruhwirth's deadly net game and House's powerful serve and baseline game.
Helping their confidence in doubles was the win Saturday over the Peoria pair.
"In doubles he and Ryan just improve every time they take the court," Peppard said.
"This weekend, with them beating that team from Peoria, I think now not only are they able to compete, but I think now they believe they can compete."
The two hope to finish among the top teams at the Northwest Region tournament to earn a trip to state.
"This season has gone by really fast," House said.
"I've been happy in singles and doubles, but especially doubles with Ryan.
He and I we're a good team, a very good team."
House feels that he could be an even stronger player if he had played his sophomore year.
Instead, he took the year off of tennis to work.
"It really hurt me my junior year.
It was a building season for me," House said.
"I had just started working and I want to concentrate on work.
That was my biggest regret.
"I told myself I'd go back to tennis.
I have my whole life to work.
"I wish I'd played my sophomore year, it would have put me at a higher level now."
But Peppard disagrees.
He said he didn't notice any dip in House's performance.
"I kind of felt really like Jason was pretty much right at the same level as these guys," Peppard said.
"I didn't realize he didn't play his sophomore year and sometimes now I forget that watching him play that he hasn't played all four years.
I know he wanted to take time off and work and buy the car that he wanted.
"It certainly worked out well for him and tennis wise, he competes at a real high level."