DENVER — Chatfield senior Christian Holmes can now be considered the best boys tennis player ever to come out of Jeffco.
Holmes became the first boys tennis player from Jeffco Public Schools to successfully defend a No. 1 singles state title in the largest classification. The senior defeated Regis Jesuit sophomore Morgan Schilling (7-5, 7-5) on Saturday morning during the Class 5A championships at Gates Tennis Center to make history.
He also the first repeat No. 1 singles champ in 5A since 2012.
“It’s super fun,” said Holmes, who has always stressed how much he loves the high school experience at Chatfield High School. “Like I’ve always said, for Chatfield it’s an awesome experience. Everything goes to my family and coaches.”
The journey was not easy this season for Holmes. Saturday was seven weeks and a day since Holmes had surgery on his right knee to clean up a torn meniscus he suffered in August. He was back on the court just before the state-qualifying regional tournament last week.
“My doctor actually just cleared me Tuesday to play tennis after regionals, which probably wasn’t the best thing,” Holmes admitted with a smile. “The knee feels awesome and that makes it feel that much sweeter. A lot of hard work with physical therapy and my dad (Stephen Holmes) has been awesome just feeding me balls on the ball machine.”
Holmes made it a priority to get back on the court despite already having a state championship title.
“I had hopes he would, but he had nothing to prove,” Holmes’ dad said. “He won last year so we didn’t put pressure on him. I really wanted to be part of the high school team and they really wanted him to come back.”
Early on it looked like Schilling wasn’t going to allow the storybook ending for Holmes’s prep tennis career. The sophomore jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the opening set.
“I was just really tight,” Holmes said of falling behind. “I was super nervous. Honestly, I could barely sleep last night because I was just so excited to play. At the same time I was so freaking nervous.”
Holmes gathered himself to win 7 of 8 games to close out the first set with a 7-5 win. His serve got going to win some easy points. Holmes credited the large Chatfield crowd that included students, faculty and parents on getting him going too.
“Our crowd was awesome. They helped me a lot. They got me hyped up to fight back,” Holmes said. “Tennis is such a quiet sport. A crowd means everything. I feed off a crowd for sure. That was huge for me.”
The 11th game in both sets proved to be huge too. Holmes broke Schilling’s serve during both sets with it tied 5-5. That gave Holmes the chance to serve out the first set and then the match in the second set.
“When it gets to 5-5 it really my last shot. A tiebreaker is really a coin toss,” Holmes said of being able to avoid a tiebreaker twice. “I really pushed in those 11th games in those sets so I could serve it out.”
Next up for Holmes is looking at his college options.
“He is talking to big school and wants to go to BYU,” Stephen Holmes said. “He has some good opportunities.”
Schilling, who actually lost to Holmes at No. 1 singles in a first-round match last year, will have two more years at chasing the priced No. 1 single title.
Regis Jesuit was able to bring home the 5A state team title. The Raiders were able to distance themselves from Cherry Creek by winning state titles at No. 2 and 3 singles, along with No. 1 doubles.