DENVER — Chatfield junior Christian Holmes wasn’t even fully aware of the historical significance of his state victory at No. 1 singles at the Class 5A boys tennis state championship finals Saturday morning.
Holmes knew his 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Fairview senior Tom Melville made the junior the first Chatfield boys tennis player to ever win a state singles title, but it went much deeper. The victory marked the first time Jeffco Public Schools had claimed the No. 1 singles boys tennis state championship in the largest school classification since 1996.
“I didn’t even know that,” Holmes said when told that info after talking to a swarm of media after his 3-set victory at Gates Tennis Center.
According to Colorado High School Activities Association records, Wheat Ridge’s Bryan Knepper won at No. 1 singles in 1996. Before that Chris Jenkins, also from Wheat Ridge, brought home the prized No. 1 singles title in 1990 and Jefferson’s Jeff Cathrall won in 1984.
Knepper, Jenkins, Cathrall and now Holmes are in fact the only Jeffco boys tennis players to ever win the top singles spot in the largest classification since the CHSAA began holding the state tournament back in 1927.
Ralston Valley’s Vinny Fallico claimed the No. 1 single crown back in 2004, but that was in the Class 4A tournament.
“I think Jeffco isn’t a powerhouse in tennis. We are a powerhouse in a lot of other sports, but not in tennis,” Holmes said. “It’s definitely big to bring it back to Jeffco and Chatfield. It feels super good.”
Chatfield actually finished sixth in the 5A team standings, mainly from the 17 team points Holmes racked up. The Chargers’ No. 2 double team of Eli Yeagley and Luke Carlson accounted for one team point with a playback victory.
It was a huge step up for Holmes at the state tournament. He has been playing in the No. 1 singles position since his freshman year. In 2015 he lost in the state quarterfinals as the lone freshman in the No. 1 singles draw. Last year, Holmes lost a 3-set match also in the quarterfinals.
Neither player who beat Holmes the past two years at state advanced to the No. 1 singles final, so Holmes didn’t even have a chance at a playback match to have a chance to place in the top-4.
However, Holmes does have a shot to become the first Jeffco boys tennis player to win back-to-back No. 1 singles titles ever. Wisely, Holmes isn’t thinking too far ahead to 2018.
“I try not to thing ahead. Even on the match-point I try not to think about how I’m going to shake his hand,” Holmes said. “I’m just in the moment. We’ll see next year.”