PUEBLO — It had been over a week since boys tennis regionals had been completed and qualifiers were set to go in the Class 4A state tournament.
So what was five more hours?
An overnight collection of moisture on the courts at Pueblo City Park caused a five-hour delay on Thursday. First round matches eventually were played, but the quarterfinal rounds were pushed to Friday with semifinals to follow.
In a way, it turned out to be a positive turn for a lot of the competitors vying for tennis championships.
“I actually kind of liked it,” Discovery Canyon senior Nick Lorenz said. “I got up, heard there was a rain delay and went back to bed. I probably had a little more energy than I would have if it (started) at nine or whatever. For tomorrow, it shouldn’t make a huge difference. Obviously there will be tougher matches but I’ve been preparing for a while so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Lorenz won his first round match, beating Longmont’s Brenden Arndt 6-0, 6-0. He’s been searching for a No. 1 singles title since his freshman year, hoping to match the feat of his brother Luke. Nick’s older sibling claimed the top singles crown for the Thunder back in 2014. After graduating college this past spring Luke decided to head home and help Nick in completing his goal of winning in Pueblo.
“I’ve been training a lot harder,” Nick said. “My older brother is here, he just graduated from Bryant University so we’ve been training every day for this moment. He’s never been with me before and it was hard to play high level tennis in Colorado Springs.”
While Lorenz won his match decisively, it proved to be tougher to get through the first round for some other players. Pueblo West’s Austin Kemmet beat Dawson’s Phil Geraghty in three sets, a match that was among the longest of the day.
It seemed like finally getting on the court at 2 p.m. was going to delay the players’ ability to get into rhythm, but when Kemmet finally settled in, his played looked sharp as he made it into the second round.
“At first I was struggling about it because we didn’t get here early enough for any warmups,” he said. “Going out there was a little tough. In disguise, it was a bit a blessing after winning the first match.”
With only one round being played on Thursday, the team picture looks a little more cloud than it normally would after the first day.
Defending champion Kent Denver was among the four teams that advanced every position into the quarterfinals. They, along with Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Academy and Niwot are tied in first place at seven points.
With five straight titles in hand, Sun Devils coach Randy Ross knows that his boys will get everyone’s best shot all weekend. He also knows that his boys are more than up to the challenge.
“We’re definitely up for that challenge,” Ross said. “The boys know they are going to be challenged by the other schools and programs and there are some really good teams out there.”
Quarterfinals will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday. Players get a mandatory half-hour resting period before they’ll have to go back out for their semifinal match.
The first round of playback matches will begin following semifinals. The second round of playbacks will take place Saturday morning, ahead of the state championship matches.