PUEBLO — Liam Sunkel might be in for a rough weekend if Friday doesn’t go his way. The No. 3 singles player for Aspen is one of two Skiers singles players to advance to the Class 4A boys tennis semifinals.
He wants to take home a medal for sure, but he’s playing for a bit more than just that.
“My girlfriend said she would dump me if I didn’t win this tournament,” Sunkel said.
Seems like a little much, but he said with a laugh and quickly countered that they’re always competitive and that he delivered a similar ultimatum as she went to play in a club soccer tournament this weekend.
“Yeah, I told her if they don’t win their tournament that we’re done so it works on both ends,” he said.
It’s unlikely that the relationship ends this week due to what happens in two separate athletic events. But Sunkel would prefer to not take any chances because there is so much more at stake. Both he and Alex Mosher have hopes of bringing home the first gold medals in the program’s history.
“We’ve had some players place around third in the past but I’m looking at getting past that this year,” he said.
At No. 2 singles, Mosher is looking to do the same thing. But his first-round win, while important for his personal mission of winning, had a far bigger impact than just an advancement to quarterfinals.
He took down Niwot’s Sam Keronen 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the first round. The Cougars took second as a team last year and with qualifiers in all seven positions, they looked like a favorite to win it all this season. But Mosher’s win may have shifted momentum to Cheyenne Mountain.
“I haven’t really processed (the full impact) yet,” Mosher said. “It’s been a pretty chaotic day for me.”
That’s for certain. He dropped his fist set in the second round to Colorado Academy’s Caleb Aguirre before rallying to get a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
Aguirre was responsible for Mosher’s only loss in the regular season so getting retribution in the state tournament was a big confidence.
“I was a little nervous coming into this match since I had already played him,” Mosher said. “I just kept my focus and powered through. I never lost my confidence.”
Keronen still has a chance to put up points for Niwot in the team race since Mosher is playing in the semifinals. If Mosher can advance to the championship, the Cougars team title hopes will remain alive. It'll just be a tough task with No. 3 and No. 4 doubles missing out on semis as well.
But heading into Saturday it’s Cheyenne Mountain in the lead with 21 points. A win would give the Indians their first boys tennis championship since 2012.
It’s a big goal for coach Dave Adams and his boys, but everyone knows that there is still plenty of work to be done.
“A lot of these boys have been on teams that haven't had this kind of success," Adams said. "It's been nine years, so they know (what's at stake)."