PUEBLO — Peak to Peak's Brett Finan's path to the Class 4A boys tennis No. 1 singles final was anything but short.
The sophomore for the Pumas endured a three-set match in the first round of the state tournament, beating George Washington's Daniel Guiot 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 before knocking off Fountain Valley's Vinay Merchant in straight sets.
Then came Friday's semifinals.
He went toe to toe with Niwot's Nick Chavez in a match that stole the attention of most of the spectators at Pueblo City Park. Finan came away with a 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-2 win to advance to the final where he'll face Kent Denver's Casey Ross.
"It was a long match," Finan said. "It was my second long match of the tournament and I'm just really tired."
Luckily for him, his day is done. He'll be on the court at 9 a.m. Saturday morning with a chance to do something that no one has done in four years: beat Ross in the state tournament.
"I have to play out my mind," he said when asked about the situation.
And to be fair, that's kind of what he did on Friday. Chavez had a chance at set-point three times in the first set, but couldn't quite put Finan away. It went to a tie-break where Finan came away with a 7-1 edge.
Chavez was able to control the second and come away with a 6-4 win to split and push the match a third and final set.
But the physical toll proved to be too much for Chavez who admittedly didn't have enough left in the tank.
Finan broke Chavez's serve three times in the final set to move on to Saturday.
"It was good for me to win that second set with that many breaks," he said. "I played really well in the second and third sets."
And he knows he'll have to continue that trend.
Ross cruised to the No. 1 singles final with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Discovery Canyon's Nick Lorenz. It was a rematch from last year's final where Ross won 6-3, 6-1.
The Sun Devils also won their third-straight team championship at the event. With so much at stake on Friday, it was hard for Ross to not glance around to see how his teammates were faring.
"I think you just have to realize that if I do my part, it helps the team out as a whole," Ross said. "If they see me being positive on the court, being pumped up and cheering for them, then they can feel more excited and more into it."
And it's working.
The Sun Devils ended the day leading the team race with 73 points. Colorado Academy is second with 64, and Niwot (38) sits in third.
But Kent Denver coach Randy Ross doesn't want his guys focused on the overall outcome yet. He wants his players to remain focused on doing their part, knowing that the team results will fall into place if that happens.
"Our goal is to get everyone playing on the last day of the tournament," he said. "If everyone is playing on the last day, then team-wise, we're probably in pretty good shape."
The Sun Devils accomplished that goal even though the No. 4 doubles team of Alex Baum and Trent Beckman did not advance to the finals. They did win their playback match on Friday to advance to the third-place match on Saturday.
Finals at the 4A state tennis tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.