PUEBLO — Cheyenne Mountain boys tennis coach David Adams made sure his team knew it couldn't leave anything to chance.
He told them all to try to be the one to cross the finish line to capture the program's first Class 4A state tennis title in seven years.
At No. 1 singles, Joey Geisz wanted to take those words to heart. He came out firing in the first set, beating Niwot's Neil Wilcox to get the attention of everyone cruising the concrete walkways of the Pueblo City Park tennis courts.
But Wilcox was perceived as the favorite for a reason. He battled back to win the final two sets and got a 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 win to claim the No. 1 singles championship.
"He came out really strong, really took it to me and I don't think I was ready for it," Wilcox said.
Wilcox had to make an adjustment so started getting more aggressive on the returns and make sure that Geisz started feeling more pressured on his first serves. The plan worked as Wilcox looked as dominant as he had been during the tournament's first two days.
One court over, however, Cheyenne Mountain's No. 2 singles player Paul Jones took care of business to ensure that the Indians clinched sole possession of the team championship. His 6-1, 6-2 win over Mullen's George Henry Hanzel was the first match off the court.
With plenty of time to play, Cheyenne Mountain was the boys tennis champion for the first time since 2012. The Indians finished with 85 points. Mullen was second with 57 and Niwot came in third with 43.
"Coach told us the story yesterday about how a few years ago they needed just one point to win state and they didn't get it," Jones said. "It was really important to get that one point and I got it and it feels good."
This is the 17th championship for the school's boys tennis team and the 98th team championship in school history. With two more wins, Cheyenne Mountain becomes the second school in the state to win 100 team titles. But that's a conversation for a later day. Saturday was about Adams' boys and a win he wasn't sure he'd ever see.
"When the group that won our last title graduated, I knew it would be a long time, if ever, that we'd get another one," Adams said.
But this group that was able to do it was one that Adams couldn't be happier to see hoist championship gold.
"You look at Joey and Paul, who are captains, and they couldn't be more gracious human beings," Adams said. "They're just the nicest guys. They don't have that ego and strut that you sometimes see among the best tennis players on your team."
The nice guys were the beneficiaries of honesty from another nice guy. Cheyenne's Oliver Muhl claimed the No. 3 singles title but found himself in a battle with D'Evelyn's Carter Smith on Friday.
During the tie-breaker in the first set, an official ruled a call in favor of Smith. The sophomore informed the official that the call was a mistake and it was good in favor of Cheyenne Mountain. That call gave Muhl the set and he would go on to win the match.
That act was a major factor in D'Evelyn claiming this year's Vicky Matarrazo Sportsmanship Award, an award that spectators of all teams applauded as Smith accepted it on behalf of his team.
Like the individual or team championship, that didn't happen by accident. It's like Adams told his team, leave nothing to chance.
Nobody at state tennis did. Championships were earned and integrity was maintained.