DENVER — A potential rematch looms for the No. 1 singles title following the first two rounds of play at the Class 5A boys tennis state tournament Friday at Gates Tennis Center.
Defending champion Morgan Schilling, a senior from Regis Jesuit, and Fairview senior Luke Silverman, last year’s runner-up, each won two matches to advance to the semifinals on Saturday.
Schilling defeated Chatfield sophomore Daniel Smith in round one (6-0, 6-1) and Cherokee Trail senior Shawn Springer in the quarterfinals (6-2, 6-1) to advance to the final four for the third-straight year.
“It’s always nice to get the first two rounds out of the way,” said Schilling. “I played well this morning against a kid who is pretty good. I got a little nervous and tight in my second match, but I figured it out and pulled it out in the end.”
Schilling, who lost in the championship match as a sophomore, has experience on his side as he vies to become the first repeat champion in 5A No. 1 singles since Christian Holmes won titles in 2017 and 2018.
Standing in his way in Saturday’s semifinal will be Dayton Fisher, a senior from Ralston Valley who advanced with wins over Rock Canyon’s Chris Swanson (3-6, 7-6, 6-4) and John Shelby of Fossil Ridge (7-6, 6-3).
“Last year I wasn’t coming back as the No. 1 singles state champion, so I didn’t feel as much pressure as I do this year,” admitted Schilling. “But that’s not a bad thing. I’m taking it as a privilege right now, and I think it’s a really cool opportunity for me to hopefully (win) it twice in a row.”
Silverman beat Fort Collins sophomore Teagen Crow (6-3, 6-3) in round one and Valor Christian junior Jack Scherer in the quarterfinals (6-2, 6-3) and will be making his second consecutive semifinal appearance.
“My first match was pretty good,” Silverman said. “I had to work. (Teagen) has a really tough serve. I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty well (all day). I’m feeling good for tomorrow.”
Silverman’s semifinal opponent will be a familiar face: Cherry Creek senior George Cavo, whom he defeated in last year’s final four (6-1, 6-4).
“I’ve got another shot at it (the state title),” said Silverman. “But I’m gonna take it one match at a time. Hopefully I can get through the semis tomorrow. George is a really athletic player; he moves really well at the net. He hits a ton of balls back, and doesn’t miss a lot. It’s going to be a tough matchup.”
Cavo, who also finds himself in the No. 1 singles semis for the third-straight season, advanced with a round-one win over Cameron Lupo of Broomfield (6-2, 6-0) and a quarterfinal victory over Heritage senior Chase Walters (6-1, 6-1).
The team race could be shaping up to be another fight between Cherry Creek and Regis Jesuit.
Cherry Creek, which leads all schools with 42 team championships, is seeking its first team title since 2016. The Bruins have finished second in each of the last three seasons.
Two-time defending state champion Regis Jesuit is attempting to become the first team to win three straight team championships since Cherry Creek captured four-straight trophies from 2013-2016.