COLORADO SPRINGS — Gavin Hutter is hoping he's the start of something much bigger. Sand Creek hasn't been known for its tennis program and has actually been shut out of the Class 4A state boys tennis tournament for the last six years.
He changed all that on Thursday when he advanced to the 4A Region 6 No. 1 singles championship match. No matter the result, Sand Creek had a qualifier for the first time since 2014.
Hutter battled for three sets but fell to Cheyenne Mountain's Robbie Metz 6-2, 2-6, 6-0 to come away as the runner-up. As a sophomore, he'll have two more chances at regional titles but it's his advancement to state that he hopes will light a spark for his program.
"I'm trying to grow this program here," Hutter said. "We've been overshadowed by so many teams for such a long time. It's time we put our name on the map."
Coach Pam Rogers sees Hutter as a kid that can get Sand Creek's name on the tennis map. Despite his youth, he's one of the more experienced kids in the program and sets the tone from a leadership perspective on and off the court.
She explains it in a way that makes playing with Hutter both challenging and enticing.
He's the kind of kid of that gets his teammates wanting to improve and wanting to live up to the standard that he sets for himself and for the team.
"I'm a captain as a sophomore," he said. "I've been told that's pretty impressive. I think the guys like me and I'm trying to do the best I can to be a good leader."
Unfortunately he'll be the only member of his team playing at next week's state tennis tournament at Pueblo City Park. He knows the competition there will be better than anything he's seen this year and points to regionals and a tough Cheyenne Mountain team as a reason that he may just surprise some people.
If his match against Metz is any indication, Hutter doesn't plan on being an easy win for anyone playing at state.
"He's a tough player," Hutter said. "He's one of the toughest players I've played against all season. Cheyenne Mountain is a really good school and playing against these players will help me do the best I can at state."
Cheyenne Mountain came away the big winner of the day, claiming regional championships in all seven positions. The team heads to Pueblo with a full squad full intent on defending the state championship it won a year ago.
Air Academy played for six championships and will send every position except for No. 1 singles to state next week.
As for Hutter, he's excited to compete at Pueblo City Park and step on the court with the best players in the state. It's a fitting end to a successful season for him.
"This year has been a lot of fun," he said. "These matches are fun. High school tennis is a ton of fun. Even if I win or lose, I'm having fun the entire time."